Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Smooth, Peaceful Evening...in Santa Clarita?

Mom and Meridith wanted to go to Kohl's today to see if the bargains in the ad were truly so. *Insert joke here about how if there's a Kohl's in Germany, it's probably a museum about the former chancellor Helmut Kohl, who served from 1982 to 1998*

It was unusual for a Tuesday since here, we never go out on a Tuesday. We save errands for the weekend. But this was limited, and it couldn't wait.

First was OfficeMax in the back end of Valencia, in the same shopping center as Best Buy, which I now call Bankruptcy in HD. Mom saw in the OfficeMax ad that there was a Toshiba 24-inch Class LED 1080p HDTV for $159.20, down from $199. Naturally, if it's in the OfficeMax ad, our OfficeMax doesn't have it, as we found out. They had a bigger TV if we wanted. We didn't. But I needed more legal notepads, which I find more comfortable to write on and easier to grab than a full-size legal pad if I'm inspired to write. Plus, I jot notes on one while I'm watching a DVD or DVD set for review. I found a 12-pack that'll be enough for a while.

Then Kohl's, across from Whole Foods, that shopping center across from the Valencia Town Center Mall complex. No decent bargains for Mom and Meridith, but for me, I found a black t-shirt with the original Nintendo controller printed on it. All my printed t-shirts are aspects of who I am, and this one is also me, a fond reminder of all the hours and days I spent on the original Nintendo.

After this, dinner time. Chick-Fil-A? Five Guys? The food court at the mall? Lazy Dog Cafe? No. Johnny Rockets, across from Edwards Valencia 12, which we hadn't been to in so long and which offered an extensive shake menu. I had a strawberry Oreo crumble shake, and from my vantage point in our booth, a view of the street that passes that end of the Valencia Town Center Mall complex, and across that street, a few shops, leading into the apartment complex over there. The trees over at that end are wrapped in white string lights. And while waiting for a patty melt with fries, and my sister's chili dog and fries, and Mom and Dad's burgers, with onion rings for her and fries for him, I just stared out that window, amazed that Valencia could exude such peace. It feels so rushed during the day, so frantic, so much to do. Yet here it was, a Tuesday evening, and I understood why some who work in Los Angeles live here. It is calm relief. But what helps is that it feels like a hub, that there are at least a few things to do, fewer than what I find in Las Vegas, but still a few things to do, which is rare elsewhere in the valley. In Saugus, my area, not a damn thing. Down the street from where I live and then across that street, there's two known restaurants, a Papa John's takeout, a CVS, and that's mostly it in that shopping center since the only major activity during the day is a dentist's office and it's long closed by that time of the evening.

That Valencia view reminded me of a conversation we all had today, and the possibility, slight so far, of a development at the foot of the Las Vegas Strip that might suit all of us. It's for 55 and over, but by Nevada law, 18 and over is allowed in those places, so Meridith and I can live there too. I don't mind. I've never had real grandparents, and my maternal great-grandfather died when I was very young (though I knew him a bit), so it'd be nice to be surrounded by those who may have lived in Las Vegas for decades, who know exactly what I want to know about some of the history of it, who lived it! Plus a bookmobile comes by (either once a week or once a month, we're not sure, and we still have a lot more to find out), and there's various classes, and a newsletter (which I want to see if I can be part of, if this is where we choose to live), and bus transportation for residents to go where they need (limited routes though and it's only about two hours during the summer days). Plus, we'll be near the new Smith Center, which is Las Vegas's first cultural center, and I'm not far from the Pinball Hall of Fame.

I told Mom that the Valencia apartment was the best time we had in these eight years because it was located behind a shopping center and there were things to do all around us (including a short walk to the library), the mall was right there, and it felt lively because of all that. While this potential Las Vegas residence is very preliminary, it fits who we are. We visited Walt Disney World so often when I was a tyke that we might as well have lived there. In fact, we wanted to. We wanted to live closer to Disney World than Casselberry allowed us. Dr. Phillips, a suburb in Orlando, would have placed us even closer to Walt Disney World. In our adult lives, Las Vegas is to us now what Walt Disney World was to us then. The same sparks of imagination I felt there, I feel in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, I still want to know everything about Nevada, and that includes Henderson and Boulder City and all of that. I want to explore every inch of Southern Nevada. I'm serious about that. I will finally have roots, and I will make it count.

Tonight's outing reminded me that not everything has to be pushed to the weekend. Every single day of the week should be lived fully. Yeah, I'll hopefully be working as a full-time campus supervisor not long after we've moved, but that time after work is mine. I can go to the Pinball Hall of Fame. I can go to a library. I can go see a movie. I can spend my evening reading. I can drive the Strip. I can watch planes take off and land at McCarran. I can do so much. Life is not meant to only be lived on the weekend. As I told Mom, we need a drastic change in our lives and this could be it. We still have to explore it further, and we'll see what shakes out, but for now, it's a reminder of what we can do, what we can be, more that we can know. I believe I'll be a much better writer after we move, because of all that'll be around me, but I also believe that I'll be living much better. Most importantly, I'll be far happier than I am here. I have books, so I'm set, but place matters too. No doubt Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Summerlin and the rest of Nevada (Reno too, one day) will provide me with constant inspiration.

Plus, I've found my kind of baseball statistics. I want to memorize the headliners, Broadway-type shows, and other acts that have appeared at casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, how many days, months, years they've appeared there, and how many performances they did, going all the way back to when Las Vegas began offering that. I'll have a lot of fun with that!

Santa Clarita is good for very little, but tonight, it was a kind of peace offering. I've despised it for eight years, but I will not leave bitter. I appreciate what it did tonight, in that reminder of things to come, things to do even during a workweek, but I will not waste more time on it after I leave. I hope this is a sign that we are indeed getting closer. We have to be, but it feels more a lot more serious now, and more comfortable. I'm game for anything.