Over the past five years, Dad has occasionally recounted stories of people he's met through his work at La Mesa and other residents of Santa Clarita who say that they have lived in this valley all their lives and have never lived. If Dad was to be believed, these people did all their errands in Santa Clarita, did not go to Los Angeles for anything, or Ventura, or Burbank, or Anaheim, or any other part of the Southern California region. I don't know if that stands for vacations as well, them never going on vacations to anywhere in the U.S. or internationally, but I've never pressed for that kind of information since it never really interested me. Plus, that sounded impossible. This valley offers little enough as it is. If they lived in Ventura or San Juan Capistrano or Anaheim, I could see them never leaving where they're living for anything. But Santa Clarita? To do anything interesting here, you have to leave, or at least go to Six Flags Magic Mountain for the day, which is separate enough from the valley in presentation and what it offers to not feel like part of this valley.
Last Thursday, at the Walmart on Kelly Johnson Parkway that overlooks Magic Mountain from the parking lot, a significantly heavyset, balding guy in his 60s, who mopped sweat from his forehead at one point, even though the store was air-conditioned, took the same turn as I did round a corner of the store and the aisle narrowed between us. I let him go first, and then we got into a conversation about the day, then about freeways, and then into his history. He lived in New York City in the late '50s and early '60s, then moved to Santa Clarita in '68 or '69, back when roads would dead-end, long before the valley looked like it does now. It was all farmland. He's lived here since then, doesn't like how rude kids are here, hates Las Vegas (he still believes that it's partly run by the Mafia), and asked me if I was seriously going to buy the pair of Rustler jeans I was holding onto, a light blue pair that I favor more than the dark blue pair I have now, but which I still wear because it's not ripped, and I don't like to spend money on jeans unless I have to. This time I had to, to replace one pair that doesn't fit me, that I thought fit me when I bought it long ago. It's not a matter of weighing more than I did then, just that I miscalculated. So I have this new pair (I told the guy, just laughing it off, that I wasn't thinking of buying it, to deflect him from his subtly derisive question), and I'll look for another when we go to the Walmart Supercenter on Carl Boyer Drive. One more pair will do it and then I'll have three and that will be enough.
Anyway, during the story of his arrival in Santa Clarita, this guy told me that he finds it a waste to go to Downtown Los Angeles to a show because of all the traffic that surrounds the Staples Center and the Ahmanson Theatre. He continued talking, and I responded with nods of understanding and vocal acknowledgments, but in my mind, I was thinking, "You can't be serious! Oh my god, Dad was right! These people, previously fictional to me, do exist!" I didn't think much of the guy, because he seemed too bitter to me to be able to live life comfortably (Yeah, there's crap in life, but it's not all bad. It's all in how you live it and how you meet the circumstances you face), but here was proof that somehow, some way, people make their lives here. Now I believe it.
I consider it to be the valley further separating from me and vice versa. It's giving me information and truth I don't think I ever would have discovered if I stayed here. It's a farewell gift to me. Besides, as soon as I get to Las Vegas, I'll forget it all anyway, so there's no harm in it revealing such truths.