I was a precocious four-year-old when she was born, and according to our mother upon my first look in the bassinet I said accusingly, "That's a playmate?!!!"
My mother should have shaken some sense into me (metaphorically, not practically), but she couldn't. She was an only child and had absolutely no personal knowledge about the gift they'd given me. She could only imagine.
Happy happy birthday to my sister... who is not only my sister, but also a beautiful wise woman and a very good friend.
Now... dance!!! (This is the song that usually blasted from the stereo in the morning when my kids woke up on their birthdays. It just seemed to set the right mood; get up and boogie with joy that it's your own special day.)
I promised my sis (Pseudo) this, oh, more than a week ago.
As you can probably surmise from the more-than-erratic non-postings on this site, I've been a mite busy.
The funny thing is, the day she called to verify that she had the dates/time confluence of the surreal happenings of the family vacation in the summer of '69 straight in her head, I'd been mentally going back to the very same thing for more than a few days. Strange? Yes. Weird? That too. Some type of mental connection? Probably... but there's no point dwelling on it.
The summer of '69 was huge, a major milestone, a parting of time where I took a definite fork in the road, the path which decided so much my life journey. And I was actually quite young.
Fifteen, just short of my sixteenth birthday.
In retrospect, I had an extraordinary amount of freedom. As long as I kept my grades up and maintained the status quo of what was expected around the house, my life belonged to me. We'd moved the previous fall to our vacation place, and as an extra added special bonus one of my best friends from L.A. also moved to the beach. This was key... she was two years older, with a brand-new VW beetle, purchased specifically due to the remoteness of Surf & Sand.
I was not confined previously (even in junior high, which happened to go through the 9th grade), and was used to being somewhat out and about around Los Angeles. I'd managed to catch performances of The Seeds, those local bad boys The Doors and Tim Buckley, but it was with the slipshod reliance of caging rides... even from parents. Once there were ready wheels and an accomplice that freedom became magnified times... oh, times almost infinity.
Of course we spent a lot of time cultivating the local scene in Oxnard that we'd become enmeshed in, while also regularly traveling south down PCH to spend time on the Strip, at the Troubadour, or hanging out in the Canyon. Whenever I was at home I spent most of my time in my room with the stereo blasting. My favorites that summer were Cheap Thrills and Led Zeppelin.
In the midst of all this heady activity my parents decided to go on a three-week summer vacation road trip. Camping. Never done before. Not even once... and planned with 8-10 hour daily drives while stopping for the night, then hitting the road first thing in the morning.
I was already miffed that I couldn't travel to Woodstock - my parents may have been somewhat permissive but a cross-country trip to attend a rock festival at the age of fifteen was absolutely out of the question. I couldn't get them to loosen up and permit a drive to San Francisco so I could experience The Fillmore, let alone the big experience that would be Woodstock.
So I settled. In exchange for peaceful acceptance of the family experience I absolutely had to be back in time to catch a concert in Santa Barbara of Blind Faith with Led Zeppelin as the opening act.
My dad promised. He had to be back at work on Monday morning, and wanted to return by that Saturday so he had time to unwind from the trip.
Off we went... and I saw for the first time so many places that would someday become so much a part of my life. San Francisco... the Sonoma Coast... the Redwoods... the Oregon Coast... Seattle. Whew. Clairvoyant travel. Then onward to Vancouver, Victoria Island... throughout Canada before heading down to Glacier Park, Yellowstone, Lake Tahoe. Really quite the marvelous trip, marred only by the perception of a surly teenager who wished herself at home with her friends.
Then L.A. came to greet us, in the form of the shock of the murders that occurred in a familiar canyon.
I just wished myself home. (But) the drive through the Mojave took longer that anticipated. By the time we got back, my friends had already left for Santa Barbara.
That title, in case you're wondering, is metaphorical and not literal. (Although I do love to zen out at a couple of my favorite beach spots where the dolphins are usually reliably coasting parallel to shore and never fail to lift my spirits, regretfully I haven't had time lately for such indulgence.)
Nope, life's just a bit too frazzled upon the rodent wheel, and at this point I've mastered a clip where I'm afraid if I falter it'll take too long to establish the pace once again.
It was always my stance on this blog not to make it too personal. Huh? Oxymoron? I mean it simply in the sense of not giving away too much of the lives of those who are closest to me. I have no problem espousing personal opinion on a wide variety of topics and issues.
My kids, (who are actually adults, yet will always be kids as far as I'm concerned), are mentioned casually from time to time while taking care to render them unrecognizable. I haven't gone to the place where my daughter is once again living with me after finishing college and living on her own and it not working out due to the current economic maelstrom and not liking it one little bit that she's back here and working part-time retail. (I'm rather enjoying that masterful run-on sentence and yes it was on purpose.)
I also refrain from relishing the fact that her brother had the luck to be born more than a decade earlier and hence was enabled to make the most of his career climb since college and has carved out an admirable niche within The Industry (for a laugh-out-loud take from my sister's perspective of said nephew you really should read this).
Or my mother. Sigh. My mother.
Right now it's trying to cope with the fact that she recently suffered a fairly bad fall, yet didn't break anything and somehow escaped the requirement of hospitals or doctors to report such incidents when they happen to elderly people living alone. She's stalling going into assisted living, and we can't make her do it, it's maddening. At this point I don't want to report her, it needs to be verified that she still has the private extended care policy she's always claimed.
It is such déjà vu. It brings back all the memory of her suicide attempt when I was in high school, and how she escaped the therapy required after such an incident by charming her doctor. But that's one for the joint memoir.
Meanwhile, time for Timmy to put to song the searching for dolphins in the sea...
I've been a bit bummed out the past couple days. My sister and her family lost their dog this weekend. He was old, he lived a good life, and I mourn him as a beloved family member.(For an outstanding story regarding him, go here.)
I didn't get to see him that often (the problem with long-distance familia), but he remembered me whenever I was there. And in my mind he will forever be running on those favorite beaches on the North Shore, before his arthritis got to be too painful for him to enjoy them any longer. Chasing the sand crabs, enjoying the sunshine and his people while running about with that doggie grin upon his face.
Today, of course, is a day of remembrance. For all the veterans of the armed services we think of you (and remember you, and thank you) for the sacrifice and service you've given your country.
On a more personal note, today once was my maternal grandmother's birthday.
She was a beauty, wasn't she? Nowadays I refer to her in jest as my "hubba hubba grannie," but wowsa she really was.
She was born to a time where she always referred to today as "Armistice Day" - she'd forgo the newer term of "Veteran's Day" - and if you reminded her of the change she'd become snappish and say petulantly, "I know! I know!" (In hindsight, I wonder if she did it to annoy my dad, who was a WWII vet. Most probably. No, definitely. She loved to annoy him.) Or maybe she just didn't like to be reminded of all the conflicts in her lifetime. WWI. WWII. The Mushroom Cloud. Korea. The Cold War. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Vietnam.
She'd also tell we kids that the reason everyone had the day off was because it was her birthday. She was that important.
Grandma really was something else, when I think about it. This portrait was done when she was in her twenties. She was quite smart, as well as being beautiful. She was a math genius ("oh, calculus is easy" she'd advise when I'd whine about mere algebra), who worked as a CPA until my mother was born... in her late twenties. Pause for that. And as a young woman, she bobbed her
hair, raised her hems, smoked those cigarettes and danced that
Charleston when she was done crunching numbers for the day. Oh, I
forgot about the gin. Go Grannie go.
So, this remembrance is for her, as well as my uncles and father who served in WWII, my neighbor Mike who still deals with the horror of Vietnam, my friends who served (either because they volunteered or were drafted), in fact all veterans everywhere across this country who served because they believed it was the right thing to do.
Grandma's also remembered by the generation who lost her before they knew her. One of my GenX son's tattoos is Grannie inspired. I'd like to think she'd be rather proud.