The Santa Clarita Valley and I have always been at odds, as has been well-documented. But last night, we agreed on a permanent truce, triggered by a simple act.
I've never believed that there are any truly good people living here, just vapid, shallow people, with the great exception of former Signal columnist and weekend Escape editor John Boston, who was my mentor at the newspaper for a time, who showed me through his methods of writing and editing how to feel truly free in one's work, to explore anything, and to write about it too. He was just one person, though. What about the rest of the valley, which to me has never had heart, never compassion, never any indication that it cares?
I could say that tonight was just coincidence, but I like to believe that it was the valley's doing, offering the end of our always-fractured relationship. The Showtime series Episodes turned me from an unfortunate resident back into a very happy tourist, but I also needed to emotionally disconnect from this valley. And I have.
Throughout the evening, I heard splashes and little-kid voices from the community pool that the right side of our large patio overlooks. Also some adult voices, but mainly the shouts of those kids. As nighttime officially arrived with a near-to-8 p.m. darkness, I heard a thump on our patio, across from our kitchen window facing the "neighbor" across from us (not really a neighbor in that sense, just the standard definition of one who simply lives across from you). I opened the door that leads to the patio and heard the little boy of the group tell his grandfather that he wanted to draw things, be an animator, and his grandfather jokingly replied, "Are you going to make enough money to take care of your grandfather?" These kids sounded like the most well-behaved group that ever visited the pool in the nearly seven years we've lived in this place.
I turned on the patio lights and found a new, green tennis ball on the ground. I picked it up and wondered where it came from: Was a nearby neighbor too overzealous with throwing the tennis ball a short distance to their dog? Then I realized that it must have come from the kids because it sounded like they were also playing on the path that leads from the pool area to the pool gate, which passes right by the high wall of our patio. So they threw it, and it landed there.
I debated whether to keep it, give it to Kitty, but she loves her orange tennis balls. I had no use for it because I don't play tennis and the basketball in my room is my ball of choice. I walked over to that wall and threw the ball back down the path toward the pool area. I heard one of the kids exclaim, "Someone threw it back!" and in unison, whether two or three kids, I heard "Thank you!" I called back, "No problem!", and went back inside.
Living in Santa Clarita for nearly eight years and experiencing other parts of Southern California, you learn a lot about who people are, how to tell right away whether they'll help you or harm you in some way, what they want from you, and if they're sincere. I am grateful to this region to have learned all that without having to play poker to learn, but hated all the baggage that came with it, all that I had to endure.
This was nice. This felt to me like the valley's truce. And it came after learning that Dad's job interview went well, that Mom and Dad may very well have found our home in Las Vegas. All I'll say so far is that it's in Las Vegas. They'll probably look at more developments tomorrow to have a backup plan just in case, but if this works out, we'll be residents of Las Vegas. There are enough stores nearby to please Mom, so we have the basics in food shopping and anything else we might need; it's eight miles from the Strip, and Mom told us that you can't see it from inside this development, but when you pull out, there it is: My desert dream. I've also learned about my potential home library branch, and received the happy news that my beloved Pinball Hall of Fame is only four miles from there.
Perhaps the valley knows before I do that we'll be leaving very soon. I hope so. I'm still not happy that we spent all these years here, but what happened last night makes me reconcile the fact that that time is gone and now it's time to make up for it, quicker than I ever imagined. Because there will not only be a lot to make me quickly forget about the unhappy experiences I've had here in Santa Clarita, but I'll be so busy with research for books and novels I want to write about Las Vegas that it may be like I've never known anything else but Las Vegas, save for our happy years in Casselberry, Florida up to 1992, of which I see Las Vegas as a continuation after a very long interruption.
From Santa Clarita, I take only my detailed education in how to read people. And I'm grateful that it let me go easy. My heart, mind, and soul are already in Las Vegas, and my body is just waiting to get there.