The road from UCLA to UCSB takes you from the 405 to the 101 on a trail from the West side to the Valley.
To the non-native Californians it sounds strange to insert “the” in front of freeways and it is a habit I don’t give free reign to in Texas unless I am referring to home.
I know the path between the places intimately having been both passenger and driver on the road between for my entire life so it doesn’t require any effort to picture it or to associate a million memories with it.
For a long time Hampshire jumped out at me because when we were young it sounded funny, then it evolved because it was a landmark that gave me a sense of how much longer it would take to get to my grandparents.
It evolved again because I knew someone who grew up elsewhere on a road of the same name so it was a constant reminder until it gained another addition.
For a brief time it was the exit I used to go from my parent’s house to the rehab facility dad stayed in.
It was the last place I saw him where there was still hope that he would somehow regain use of his legs and return to chemo so that he could show he had more than nine lives.
Something about this moment reminds me of the end of A River Runs Through it which is as perfect an ending to a movie as you can find.
You can watch or not watch the clip below as you choose but if you really want to know something about me this will give some information.
The story it tells about me might be considered depressing and or bittersweet by some but for the most part it makes me smile.
There is no doubt it is a reminder about how so many of those who have been important to me are gone, some well before their time and some not.
Yet it is also a good indication of how lucky I have been and why I know to hold onto some and let go of others.
Sometimes the strangest part of living in Texas is hearing stories and or seeing pictures of these places in California I know so well and recognizing I may never live there again.
That part of life may be gone forever and it home may be a place I visit, never quite a tourist but not quite a resident any more either.
It is so damn hard to say and so damn hard to know what the future brings so I try not to get too caught up in it because just when I think I have it all figured out I find out I don’t.
A River Runs Through it was released 27 years ago during a time when the world seemed wide open and possibilities endless.
A time when I hadn’t a clue certain people existed or how important they would become. A time when others who were my age were within two or three years of the end of their lives.
Terminal illness and a bike accident took the three of them, none of them quite 30. I knew they were young then but didn’t understand how very young that was.
I remember telling my father about the death of a friend and how stricken he looked, how he said, “you’re not a father yet, you can’t conceive of how awful this is for his parents.”
At the time I remember wondering if he was trying to be a bit of a big shot, but looking back it is clear he was relating to my friend’s parents.
He had known this particular friend of mine since we were about 14 and to a large extent had seen us grow up together. He must have thought for a moment about me and how luck plays such a role in our lives.
That is a hard thing to reconcile, luck versus cause.
When bad things happen we want to know why the person who did nothing wrong ended up with the health issue or bad break and why the schmucks didn’t get XYZ.
If you take care of yourself and keep your side of the street clean why should you roll snake eyes.
I opt for luck as my answer because I don’t believe in a higher power punishing us, especially when the good guys get afflicted and the bad guys don’t.
Granted that is not how it always works but you get my drift.
Most nights I sleep deeply and nothing wrecks my slumber or so it has gone most of my life. The last week that hasn’t played out as it traditionally would.
I woke up screaming one night and jumped out of bed another because the storm made a noise that reminded me of an earthquake and old habits are hard to break.
Had a dream another night in which I was yelled at for not finding someone closer to 1991. I shook my head, said something about hug me or hold my hand and woke up.
This morning I grabbed my work phone from the night stand and read my email from under the covers and prepared to hit the ground running at full speed.
Hours later after having been through a ridiculous and stormy chaotic moment I stared at a bright blue sky and dared the angels to come down and fight me.
“If you are you going to make me dance in the fire and test me again you might as well give me a real challenge.
Let me see if I can tear the wings off of an angel and glue them to my own back. Let me take off the gloves and do what I know to do without the shackles.
There was no response.
No lightning. No thunder. No angels.
All I got was an email alert that Facebook was broken and the freedom that came with not checking it for things to be outraged about.
It was California dreaming of Hampshire memories time.