Sunday, May 31, 2009
My very first memory is of being lost and alone in a thunderstorm at the age of four, but I will not start there. I will begin at age twenty-one, in 1971. I'd just been released from Banning Road Camp after serving 66 days of a 90-day sentence for violating the terms of my probation. The specific term I'd violated stipulated that I not be arrested while on probation. The court took note that I had gotten myself arrested in Seal Beach for possession of marijuana. This was not my first scrape with the law and my father was concerned about the trajectory my life had been taking of late.
That is why, upon my release from the Road Camp at Banning, I was met by my dad and my brother, Skip. From Banning the three of us drove to the nearby San Jacinto Mountains for a few days of camping. At the conclusion of our Father-sons camp-out, the plan was that I go live with my dad, his new wife and her three kids on their little half-acre horse ranch situated in Mira Loma, only about 7 miles from Riverside where I'd been raised.
I had not been on good terms with my dad for the previous ten years, and for the past few had been living on my own in several different So-Cal locations, most recently Seal Beach. So this new situation felt a bit strange, but at this stage in my life a change of this sort was a real ( but unrealized by me) godsend.
Enter the beautiful neighbor girl. I first saw her on a misty morning in May as she walked past our house on her way to school. I was intrigued and enchanted from the first. Her long, straight chestnut-brown hair and slim figure were the easily identifiable outer allurements which got my initial attention, but of course there was, in addition, that deep and difficult-to-pinpoint intangible something--was it something in her bearing?--which captivated me. In the next week or two I made a point of being where I could watch for her in the morning and evening hours when I knew she would be walking to or from school.
Although I'd seen her walk down our street, I had never seen which house she had come from. A week or so later, on a warm Saturday afternoon as I walked down the street I saw her sitting on her front lawn, playing a guitar (these were semi-rural properties with deep yards and no curbs or sidewalks). As painfully shy as I was, my feet seemed to instantly overrule me and walked right up to where she was sitting. I sat down and listened as she finished strumming and then somehow I found a voice and introduced myself. Unwittingly I had just set a tentative foot into one of God's cleaver and loving traps. To be continued...