Tuesday, November 29, 2005

You Can Never Go Home Again...Or Can You?

They say you can never go home again...or can you?

In February, as some of you know, I will be taking a trip to Las Vegas for some kind of promotion thingee that was bestowed on BF from the casino he frequents a little too...uh...frequently.

When he told me about this free trip, I was elated of course, since it means VACATION TIME, but it wasn't until tonight did I realize that even though I've never even been to Las Vegas ever in my lifetime, I will be going home.
You see, as a child, I lived in Burbank, California, and duh me, I didn't realize that Nevada was right next door to my blessed homeland.

But, let me explain a little something to you that I rarely talk about before I get to the point of this post.

When I was seven, my mother married a man named Robert Manders who was stationed in the army. Right after they married, he was given orders to be stationed in Fort Ord, California. My sister, aunt, mother, new step-dad and I drove the 3,000 miles to a place I'd never been before, but was looking forward to it never the less.

For the first time, I was NORMAL. I had a father again, since my own father left me as a baby, and I felt like this was a new beginning as a family - something I'd never had up to that point.

I loved California. There were so many neat things to do and see which was so different from life back on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. But, most of all, I had a family just like everyone else with a mama AND a daddy.

However, as all good things come to an end, they didn't get along and separated three years later. I was taken by my aunt by train back to the Eastern Shore to live with my grandmother, which I did until the eleventh grade when my mother came back home and I lived with her for a year before she died.

For all the years since that tragic day when I had to leave my homeland, I've always had a secret desire to go back. Actually, it was more than that...

California represented family to me, something that was stolen from me and I knew I'd never get it back. It was like it represented a time in my life when my mother was alive and we were doing all sorts of fun things and I can't even remember a time in my life when I was so happy. I had it all. And then, in the dark of the night, my aunt whisks my sister and I off to live with my grandmother in Virginia. It was like my life ended.

I sunk into a shell afterwards. I lost everything. I lost my possessions, my mother, my life as part of a real family.

When I was in the eleventh grade, my mother came back home. She had remarried and rented the house next door to my grandmother and I moved in with her.

About that time, I met my husband and we married. One month later, I found my mother dead in her bedroom. I screamed and ran next door to my grandmother who called the ambulance.

We never found out why my mother died. My step-father was nowhere to be found and we suspected him of being involved, but it was never proven. Her death certificate said that she died of heart implications, but the coroner told us otherwise. He said that there was carbon minoxide found in her system and we never found out how it got there.

The years passed and I grieved for my mother. Holidays and birthdays were never the same. Instead of being happy, I was depressed on those days because of some unknown psychosis I suppose, but I knew why. Those days represented family, something that was stripped away from me at the age of ten. And, of course, there was the death of my mother which I never came to terms with.

When we initially made that trip to California, my step-father took a picture of my mother, sister, aunt and I standing in front of the California state sign. I saw that picture every now in then throughout my youth and marveled at how happy I looked in the picture. In fact, we all looked happy. We were on our way to a new home with new adventures...as a family.

Over the years, my aunt died and she took along with her that picture for I have yet to find it again. That picture symbolized so much and just like my mother's passing, it disappeared, too, leaving me empty inside.

When I found out about this trip to Vegas, I did a random search on the internet to see just where exactly it was. I thought it was more in the middle of the U.S., but you should have seen my expression when I found out where it really was.

Forty-five minutes from that same "Welcome to California" sign. It might not be the same exact sign, but it is in the exact same area.

I need to go there. I need to cross that border and have my picture taken underneath the sign. No, it will not be the same and no, it will not bring my mother back, but then again, will it?

Will she be standing there beside me, grinning that Marilyn Monroe sexy grin like she used to do? Will she reach over and put my hair behind my ears that irritated me so much as a child? Will she finally have a chance to tell me that she's okay and that I can relieve myself of the demons that have haunted me for the thirty years since she died?

I will get that chance to find out. It's my only chance and maybe my last chance. I need that picture more than life itself and I will get it.

For, standing there at the California border, I will have come home again.

*Note: This picture was grabbed off the internet and I hope the owner forgives me for borrowing it. It is where I need to go. To find that picture of my mother and I standing at the California border forty-four years ago. I need it to clear up the demons that have haunted me all my life and to prove to myself that you really can go home again.


  1. I hope you get the closure that you need on this trip. Maybe you can put some of the sadness that you've been carrying around down after this.
    Hope it turns out just like you want it. Sign and all.

  2. I hope it proves to be the cathartic experience you desire. Bon voyage. :)

  3. I feel the same way - one reason I want to move back West after being away from it for a grand total of 3 years is that it IS my family. I'm so excited you're getting this opportunity. And I really do need to get an excerpt from you for my book. :)

  4. I hope this all comes together for you. Funny the things we just need to do sometimes!

    And remember, God says He's the Father to the fatherless. You're never alone, Dorothy. He'll stand next to you under that sign, too.

  5. Death Valley is quite an incredible place. Be careful when you're there, however, as the heat can reach intense highs of well over 100 degrees. When my girlfriend and I were there, we passed a motorist who had stalled on the side of road, and from listening to the Rangers speak that isn't an uncommon occurance at all.

    Best of luck to you and yours, and thanks for stopping by at my blog.

  6. You bet your ASS that your mom will be with you, right there behind/beside you when you take that picture... it was a time of peace and happiness and a unique moment you SHARED.

    And this post-- absolutely stunning, amazing, and well--I can't find words to describe it. My life seems so ordinary and un-angst in comparision, you WILL find success in writing if this is any indication of your novels! :-)


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