2.12.2005

The Flats vs. the Hills

We're back home for a few days, visiting family and friends, before flying across to Hawaii. We've been sick all week (JUST how I wanted to spend my time in SoCal...) but I *had* to get out today and get my hair cut. Tomorrow is Little Man's baptism and I don't need to be looking as shaggy as I was looking. Not to mention cabin fever had set in BIG TIME and I needed some fresh air.

So I paid about $10 too much for a mediocre haircut (I'm going to miss Kathy...$11.95 for a good haircut) and then decided to drive around and see what all (if anything) had changed in the year+ since I had been back home.

Let me give you a little background...my hometown is a small suburb of Los Angeles. Growing up, it was referred to as a "retirement community" because we had a large population of retirees in the area. Now, it's more just an extension of Los Angeles - multicultural, crowded, and overdeveloped. But it's still HOME and it always will be. I was not a beach bum nor was I a "Valley Girl" - I kind of fell in between those two stereotypes during my childhood. It was a good childhood - spent playing with my neighborhood friends in our backyards, riding bikes, playing Kick-the-Can in the street on warm nights, sleeping over, exploring our block. A good childhood.

There are 2 parts to my hometown - The Hills and The Flats. The Husband is from The Hills. The houses are bigger - mansion-like almost - and the lawns are professionally manicured and landscaped. It's nice. But I always feel slightly out of place up there. Even for the year that I lived with my in-laws, I still felt kind of like an imposter.

The moment I cross over the overpass back in to The Flats, I relax. It's subconscious. The Flats are more familiar, more comfortable, more relaxed. Less pretentious. I feel at home among the bungalow-style homes closely spaced with wide, flat front lawns stretching out to the sidewalk. You don't see too many 2-story houses in The Flats. There are some but they tend to stand out as opposed to The Hills where 2-story houses are the norm. Most of the homes in The Flats were built around the time of WWII - either during or right after. Some have been remodled but many still retain their suburban, baby-boomer charm.

Most of the over-development that plagues the city has taken place on The Hill so The Flats are still pretty much what they were when I was growing up. That adds to the familiarity.

My old house is different - 3 different owners have left their mark on it in ways I don't really like. Gone are the atrium, the unique Chinese detail on the front wall, the one-of-a-kind picture window on the side wall of the living room, the bouganvilla that climbed the chimney, the white rocks on the roof. I miss that house. I stil harbor a bit of resentment toward my parents for selling it and moving. I understand, mentally, why they moved but on an emotional level I miss my childhood.

Driving around today was nice. It was nice to feel like I was home again. There has only been one other place that has made me feel like that and that is northern Colorado. It's a good feeling.

Sometimes I wonder if my children will have that same nostalgia. Being a military family doesn't really lend itself to staying in one spot and putting roots down. There is a sadness in me when I think that my kids will never have the familiarity with their surroundings that I had with mine. They will never know each nook and crany of a house like they know the back of their hand. They will never have the same depth of memories about a path taken on the way home from elementary school like I do.

I wonder if, when they become adults, certain smells will evoke sharp memories for them liek they do for me. The smell of a Camellia bush or a white grapefruit tree or a blossoming orange tree can whisk me back to my childhook instantaneously. All I have to do is close my eyes and I can *almost* smell it now. Almost.

We took the kids to the park this afternoon to let them play for a bit.Princess Trouble rode around on a tricycle while Little Man dug around in the sand for anything to put in his mouth. I got sand in my shoes for the first time in YEARS. What a wonderful feeling.

I suppose I am blessed. Many people do not have such wonderful memories of their childhoods and do not miss them like I miss mine. What a blessing for me. I pray I can help bestow that blessing on my children.

1 comment:

ziva said...

Hey Lia, As Wendy may have told you my family moved all over the place when I was growing up, and we weren't military; my folks just suffered from wanderlust or some other unknown affliction. Anyway, I went to something like 23 different schools. I can guarantee Princess Trouble and Little Man will have the memories and nostalgia. The difference is they will have those feelings for all the places they have lived. Everytime I visit a California city we lived in I drive past our old house if it's still there; ditto out of state places. It's awesome having happy memories of so many people and places.