My Hometown

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Travel Blog

I had a couple of days off over the weekend so I decided that instead of staying in the bay area, I would spend my Sat and Sun in my hometown. There is absolutely nothing to do there, but for some reason, I find comfort in being in the town that I spent most of my childhood and teenage years.

Strange enough, when I arrived on Saturday, I was not able to get a room anywhere in town. Almost every hotel was booked (not that there are a lot to choose from in the first place). So I decided to stay at the Howard Johnsons off of I-80. Its a crappy dump of a place compared to the other places I’d stayed in the city, but it was cheap, and the room was enormous. It had a sofa, refrigerator, coffee table, desk, and a very big bed….not to mention enough room to turn cartwheels. The only thing that it didn’t have, which irrited me, was internet connection! I went throught painful withdraws, but after an hour, I figured out that there were some stray wireless connections out in the parking lot. It was a bit inconvenient, but when I wanted to check my mail or do a bit of surfing, I’d just take my laptop out there and sit in the middle of the parking lot. People must have thought I was a homeless person.

As I normally do on my trips to Davis, I would take the usual tour of the town by visiting my old schools and the places where I lived. Of course, nothing had really had changed since I visited it last April, EXCEPT that there was a moving van out in front of the house where I onced lived in the south area. Out of all of the places where we lived it was by far my favorite house. I lived there during a very difficult period of my life where I was going through depression over school, friends, and other personal things that were going on at the time, not to mention a serious case of identity crisis.

You’d think that normally a person who was gfoing through such a rough time in their life would not want to revisit the place that might bring back those painful memories. But on the contrary, visiting that old house makes me feel better. But until this past weekend, I never got a sense of closure from it. We moved out of that house quite abruptly and so I never was able to say goodbye to it. I know this sounds strange, but I felt that because of that, I wasn’t able to put some of my past memories and regrets to rest.

On Saturday, when I saw that moving van out front, I thought that maybe by Sunday the people who occupied the place would be gone and I could get a bit closer to it and just get a better look at my past. Unfortunately, on Sunday, the moving van was still there and the people were still in the process of moving their belongings out.

I saw two young guys in the early 20’s on the roof of the house trying to remove a sattelite dish, as I drove by. I decided that I really needed this closure in my life so I stopped the car and got out.

As I approached the house, the two guys stopped what they were doing and looked at me with an understandible puzzled expression on their faces. I introduced myself and explained that I lived in that house 20 years ago, and just wanted to get a better look at it up close. I thought that they would think I was a strange one and ask me to go away, but surprisingly that told be to go ahead and go into the house. I was so happy that I nearly cried. I think I did cry.

Walking into the front double doors alone brought back so many memories. The inside was a mess from all of the moving that they were doing, but I still recognized and remember the interior. It had changed very little in the last 20 years, although there were some serious signs of age like rust in the bathrooms and squeeking floor near the stairways, but other than that, the place looked the same.

I even managed to see my old room. It looked so much smaller from the days when we lived there. As a matter of fact, the whole house look so much smaller. I use to remember thinking that the place seemed so huge, even when we had guests in our place. I missed that hous so dearly, but now I finally feel that I can put it behind me now. The sense of closure that I had desperately sought for was finally at hand, and now I no longer feel an need to be in that house anymore.

Going back to the roots

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Travel Blog

Its been about 5 days since I arrived in California. First day I arrived, I couldn’t get a reservation at the Hilton, the hotel I stayed at last April when I was here. I wound up having to spend my time a hotel near the airport. I stayed there once before and I quite like it there. Its over $50.00 a night cheaper than the Hilton, plus parking and wireless internet access is free. The only drawbacks is that its so far away from everything that its a pain to go out, even for stuff like dinner.

The first day, I was so jet lagged that I wound up sleeping for most of the day. I tried desperately to stay awake until at least 9pm, but wound up dozing off at around 6pm.

The next day, it was time to move to the Hilton. I got my things packed up and ready to go by 8:30. But since the Hilton didn’t allow check-ins until the afternoon, I still had a quite a bit of time, so I decided to take a drive to Monterey, the city where I was born.

I first stopped off at Salinas which is a small agriculture town just off of the main highway. I lived there briefly when I was a kid. The town has a huge population of Mexican immigrant workers. I remember that there was a quite a large lettuce field near the apartment where we lived. It was always full of Mexican workers picking lettuce. This day was no different.

I visited the neighborhood where I once lived and found that it had degraded signifcantly. It was like driving through South Compton, but luckily for me, the streets were quite quiet that day. I drove up to the apartment where we once lived only to find that the parking lot is now gated off to the general public. This was probably to keep out the degenerates that roam the neighborhood. But fortunately enough, there was door within the gate that happened to be open, so I snuck it to take a peek at what was once our beloved apartment.

When we lived there about 25 years ago, the apartment was quite nice. I mean it wasn’t Beverly Hills, but it was quite clean and the management maticulously kept up the landscape and the pool. This particular apartment complex put the surrounding neighborhood buildings to complete shame because because of its maticulous upkeep. It was like an oasis in the middle of scorching desert of poverty.

The management had a teenaged son who would recruit the neighborhood kids, which there was an abundance of, to help him with the landscaping. It was free labor, and some of the kids liked it because we got to use little gadgets and what nots to trim the grass.

The swimming pool was always clean, thanks to the management. They were so fanatic about keeping the pool clean, that they even prohibited anyone with long hair to swim in it without a “bathing cap” as they called it back then, which were very feminine looking often embossed or had flowery prints on them. And since this was the 70’s, even men had long hippy like hair and afros. Unfortunately, back then wearing bathing caps wasn’t a hip or a cool thing to wear for guys. So most of the long haired boys and men opted to just stay out in protest. Funny thing is, nowadays it pretty fashionable for a guy to were “swim caps”. Speedo makes really cool looking ones that are very sporty looking.

Even the plants and trees were always emacluate. I remember children were often scolded harshly by the management if they had intentionally or even unitentionally damaged the landscape or the exotic plants that decorated the complex. In some cases some children were forbidden to ride their bikes around without parental supervision. And only the older kids were allowed ride their bikes out in the parking lots. I was often guilty of destroying some of the plants. There was one particular breed that spitted out a white glue like liquid if you broke its stem right in the middle. I know it doesn’t sound too cool, but for a seven year old, it was like discovering a new substance that no one else knew about. I think that the plant that squirted out the glue from its stem was one of the more exotic and expensive ones because the management hunted for the perpetrator of this evil crime for several weeks. Although I was suspected of doing it, they never caught me.

Another thing that the manager’s son occassionally recruited us to do was to make us paint some of the walls in the vacant apartments. Again, for us this was a lot of fun. I’m sure that nowadays if the same thing happened, the management would be sued for child labor infringment, or even slave labor. But we lived in a much more simplier time when an occasional act of illegal child labor built ones character.

Now, those very same apartments that where once so neatly and almost obsessively kept up to a very high standard, have fallen to level of its surrounding neighborhood. It was a near slumlike atmosphere. All of the exotic plants were gone and the landscape that once housed them was cemented over. The lawn was still neatly cut, but not at the near golf course green like standard of the times when I lived there. The paint on the walls were scuffed and looked to be chipping away due to age.

I walked over to the unit where we once lived. It was vacant and had a deserted look to it. As I got closer to it, I noticed that the living room window was broken and had a huge hole in it. I was very saddened to see this because that apartment held so many good and bad memories for me. I wanted dearly to be able to go inside once again and see my old bedroom, but I’m afraid that even if I could, it would only sadden me even more. By the looks from the exterior, I could only imagine that the interior would be much worse.

But the single most thing that surprised me the most was the swimming pool. It was no longer there. Maybe the upkeep had been too much for the new management, or perhaps there was no longer any interest in it, but the once jellybean shaped pool in the the middle of the complex, was fill in with dirt and turn into a giagantic planter for small trees and large plants. I was so disappointed to see this. The pool are was once a place for all of us to gather and play a of Jaws or Marco Polo. I was that very same pool where I first learned to swim. And now it was reduced to nothing more that a huge bucket of dirt to house a few unsightly weeds.

to be continued….

Going to San Francisco…again

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Theater, TV, and the Arts

I will leaving for the States in about 30 minutes. It will be an 11 day business trip with three main missions. If I can accomplish those missions within the first week, then I can pocket the rest the time I spend there and use it as a vacation time.

So far, I have no plans, but I might meet with some friends, depending what their schedules are like. If I mamage to really finish my work within the first week, I may even go down to LA. It looks like its 50/50, but since it really depends on the willingness of others, and not just my efforts, its really all up in the air. But there is one thing that is for sure, I am definately going to try to fit in some R&R on this trip.