We four are standing on a section of sidewalk overlooking part of Ventura Harbor, in front of a large fishing boat that's firmly anchored, yet slowly drifts to the dock and away from it repeatedly. I've got a butter pecan ice cream malt, and Meridith's got a cotton candy/bubble gum ice cream malt (which turns purple, her favorite color, when both flavors are combined), both from Coastal Cone nearby. We're right near the Fisherman's Memorial, which faces the parking lot that's adjacent to Andria's Seafood Restaurant, which was prohibitively expensive for us this time. It's the afternoon of New Year's Eve, also Mom's birthday. Being at Ventura Harbor Village used to feel vivid, exciting in parts, with much to look at in all the shops. It doesn't anymore.
Before this point, we went to Pacific View Mall, which Mom wanted to go to as a farewell before we finally left the Santa Clarita Valley for good (It'll happen soon enough, I hope), and she wanted to see what calendars the Calendar Club store had. I like that mall because most importantly, it's not Valencia Town Center, where you can walk around but feel throughout that you can't touch much, unlike Galleria at Sunset in Henderson where you can go anywhere in that mall and feel like it's yours to explore. Pacific View Mall actually feels like a mall, not just a collection of stores separated by escalators. There's Sears, Macy's, JCPenney and Target as anchors. The second floor is wall-to-wall carpeting. It's not a mall for me to embrace because outside of the Santa Clarita Valley, I always feel like a tourist wherever we go. California has that gift, good or bad.
At Target, I found a Matchbox flatbed dump truck, which I snapped up for my working vehicles collection. That's as far as I go with construction vehicles. Bulldozers, mixers, backhoes and others do a lot of work, but generally in one place. A dump truck has to get from one place to another. You can't drive a backhoe down the 405.
After that was Super Panda Buffet at the corner of the mall property. We've been to it before, and Mom decided to go there because Andria's was far too expensive and at least here, the price for all four for us was a lot more than what we could have gotten at Andria's for the same price. Plus, we could all find something we liked there, and we did, save for the hard-boiled egg I had at the end which was in the fridge in its shell for too long, with a gray color around it.
Back at that section of the harbor, after air hockey with Meridith, two games of Galaga, and two games of Cruis'n USA (I wish it had been Cruis'n Exotica, like at the roller skating rink in Ventura the year before last, because I liked rolling under that landing 747 at that Hong Kong airport), I thought about the entire day, had liked what we did, but it didn't feel like it used to. And I realized what was missing.
The many times before that we were at Ventura Harbor Village, there wasn't as much hope as there is now in moving out of Southern California. So being there, being somewhere completely different from where we exist ("Live" is a word that should be used when you're happy with where you are), we threw ourselves into the experience, which wasn't hard. This time, the pleasure was muted, because we know better things are coming in our lives.
Even so, it's places like Ventura Harbor Village that saved me from feeling insane from where I exist. It's true that in order to do anything interesting in the Santa Clarita Valley, you have to leave. Thank goodness for those options.