Mom and Dad set out for Las Vegas in a rented Chevy HHR yesterday afternoon, a little after 2. They'll be back on Saturday, which leaves Meridith and I to do whatever we want, but without use of the PT Cruiser since we don't drive the roads here, and it's the only car we have right now between the four of us. Even if they were home, we still wouldn't use it, because it has to be treated very delicately, and even if we would, it's not worth it because we still need it to get around and it can't go great, great distances. Plus we're looking to trade it in for a younger car when the time comes. It's aging rapidly.
So, with time to ourselves, what to do....
A water bottle for each of us?
A plastic bag for the basketball and the water bottles?
Meridith wanted to go to the Circle K near our place, so that was our first stop. She was looking for new spicy-flavored Slim Jims: Chili pepper, jalapeno, and habanero. Circle K had them, but they were only the monster sizes.
Next was Circle K and they only had mild Slim Jims, since the customers they get are often mild-mannered.
Then we walked through the Seco Canyon Village shopping center, which looks nothing like a village, but of course the name of a shopping center or a strip mall is never supposed to reflect what it is. It's supposed to be more than the setting actually is, with the hope of blinding people to how dull it is. Or at least that's how it is with Seco Canyon Village, which offers a veterinarian, dry cleaners, Papa John's, dentist's office, a vaguely Italian restaurant, and a credit union bank. CVS is the anchor of this shopping center. Very small. Doesn't feel at all like a home shopping center.
To walk from our apartment to way out to the intersection next to Rite Aid is about 1.9 miles. 1.9, and it took us three hours to walk there and back with many stops on the way. We walked from CVS through that shopping center, past many neighborhood entrances, to the park to see if anyone was playing basketball. If the court was empty, we were going to shoot some hoops. We're not that good that we can play a full game.
The hoops were being used, so we kept on walking, past the elementary school, to the 7-11 on that side of the street where we also didn't find the regular size spicy Slim Jims Meridith wanted. After that, we crossed the intersection to the Shell gas station convenience store to check, and nothing there either.
Then Rite-Aid, first to look for the Slim Jims and finding the same mild ones that CVS had, and then, hey! How about some ice cream? They've got that Thrifty ice cream with scoops that look like rounded squares. A scoop of butter pecan for me in a sugar cone and a scoop of Circus Animal Cookie ice cream in a regular cone for Meridith, with the frosted cookies mixed into the ice cream. Not pieces; whole. Meridith found three in her scoop.
We walked the length of that Rite Aid shopping center, remembering that the Goodwill store was in the back. Once we got to the corner of it, Meridith called Mom and told her about our walk so far and that we got ice cream, and Mom said to her that we sure know how to make the most of our time. We sure do. Plus, she and Dad were going to Golden Corral in Hesperia, a buffet we haven't seen since Florida, so it was only right that we did something good for ourselves, and that was ice cream at Rite Aid. But that wasn't all.
I love the old books at Goodwill, seeing what people owned before that's now in these stores. When we walked past the kitchen items to get to the books, I said to Meridith that it's like looking in other people's houses, except it's legal!
I was also looking for a VHS copy of Neil Simon's I Ought to Be in Pictures, since it still hasn't been released on DVD, and I wanted to own it on VHS since I still have a VCR, and it's the same reason I own The Glass Menagerie, starring Joanne Woodward, John Malkovich, Karen Allen, and James Naughton, on VHS. I want these two movies on DVD already and I think that day may be coming soon since Warner Bros. has the Warner Archive and Sony has its own made-on-demand disc service, releasing previously unreleasable old movies for fear that they wouldn't turn a profit. But here's a way for people to have them and for the studios to still make money.
The walk to this intersection and the long walk back, through those neighborhoods, past a blue clapboard house with a country feel that I want to find a variation of in Las Vegas one day (not as a house, but as an apartment or something of that ilk), was to look at this area more closely, to see what we didn't see very often because we always drive right by it, to feel more the fact that this valley can never rise from what it is. I know it even more now. It seems to be fine with what it is, but it's not my kind of fine, so that's good enough reason to finally move on out. And yet, it was also to do what we've never done in these 7 and 3/4 years we've lived in Saugus: To get ice cream from Rite Aid and just walk around. To sit at a picnic table at the park to rest our feet after a long walk, which was much more out of necessity than a wish, but we've never sat down at those tables, just to sit and watch the little scenery there is, the cars blazing by, the people walking around the park, the people walking past us with dogs who it turns out were headed for a dog obedience class being held in a nearby section of the park.
It didn't increase the goodwill I've never had toward this valley, but it made me realize that somehow, people have found their lives here. I don't know how they do it, and certainly they're made of different material than I am, and that's good. It's home for them, and they treat it as they please. Their ways don't jibe with my ways. Therefore, still no connection to this valley after all these years, which is as expected. I will leave with no regrets, nothing to reconsider. I found the limited scenery peaceful at least, even with the traffic right near me. So there was that, but still never enough.
On the walk to 7-11, Meridith and I planned what I call our Second Farewell Tour. It may or may not be tomorrow, depending on if someone comes out to fix our broken washer, but it will definitely be either Thursday or Friday. We were originally planning to go to Valencia Town Center Mall to try the burgers from Burger King's summer BBQ menu, since we both tried the bacon sundae last Sunday, and we'll still do that, but we also want to walk to College of the Canyons and walk around the campus to see how our old haunts have changed (the library and a table far in the back at the cafeteria for me; that same table for my sister since she hung out there with her friends) and how the campus has changed in general from when we both went there at separate times. We haven't been back since we each graduated from there, and I would like to go to the bookstore once without hyperventilating over how much I have to pay for a textbook, which I did every time I went there as a student. Now I can do it as an outsider and laugh at those prices. But if they have any Sam Shepard plays for the theater classes again, I'll buy them used, or new if the price is reasonable. Plus I want to see what the English department is pushing these days. Plus I'd like to see the old journalism newsroom which they might be using for something else, since student journalism classes were cancelled in 2009 and the Canyon Call newspaper was disbanded, long after I left. Apparently, there's an online news publication, so they may be using that newsroom now.
Mom and Dad are in Las Vegas for a job interview Dad has on Thursday, and starting today, they're going to look at mobile home parks they've researched. Nothing barren or hopeless-looking. They've found a few that apparently have a community feel and they want to investigate further, including a senior mobile home park that allows Meridith and I there too, since we're over 18. That's Mom's first stop, and she'll go from there. She's hoping that it'll be as easy as when they found the Super 8 that they're staying at on the Strip, across from Bellagio, with views of Planet Hollywood, the Cosmopolitan, and a slight view of New York-New York. I think it will be, because it happened exactly like this 7 and 3/4 years ago. They went back to Southern California in late July 2003, while Meridith and I stayed home with Tigger in our condo in Pembroke Pines, Dad had a job interview then too, got the job, and they found our apartment in Valencia. We're hoping that it plays out exactly the same way because this will be the first time we've felt at home anywhere since 1992, when we sadly left Casselberry in Central Florida for Coral Springs in South Florida, after having spent many happy years there. Happiness is coming again!
For now, the Second Farewell Tour is coming, and it's necessary. When I needed to find some kind of footing in Santa Clarita, to get clear of that frenzied cross-country move from South Florida to Southern California, to figure out who I was in Southern California, that library at College of the Canyons was there for me, and so was the empty campus at 3:50 p.m. every Friday afternoon, after my cinema class, which I loved to walk before I began my walk from the campus to the bus transfer station across from the mall property. Peace in the middle of a vortex. That's what it was. I need to see it one more time, to see what changed, and to remember and to appreciate again. Besides my family, at least that was there.