Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Going Back to California

For those who haven't been keeping up with my going back to California posts, there are links in the right hand sidebar to catch up, but I'm heading back to California in September. Don't know at this point how I'm going to get there (either RV or plane), but I'm going to get there.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this trip, just haven't posted much about it because I had so much going on, but I'm becoming obsessed with it once again being as it's going to happen in FIVE months. Five months actually isn't a long time and there are so many plans to be made; but, meanwhile, I've met some wonderful friends who are helping me find my roots again that I will be blogging about.

To begin with, I'm looking for answers. I'm not even sure what answers I'm looking for, but I know I will find them when I get to California.

I'm an army brat and California was my last home before moving to Virginia in the early sixties. I was seven years old when my mother married Robert Manders from Rhode Island. She was ecstatic of course because he had just joined the army and had orders to report to Fort Ord in California. The trip there was awesome and I know she felt the same as I, that it was our chance to have a real family again.

My father walked out on my mother when I was a baby (I've talked about him, too, in the right hand sidebar) and "Bob" meant I could finally have a daddy again. He wasn't quite what I expected, but I never expected too much out of anyone anyway. He ruled with an iron fist, but I'll get into that later.

After Bob did the stint in Fort Ord, we moved to Burbank. My first home there was near St. Joseph's Hospital. It was within walking distance to my school, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.

The second home I lived in was on Oak Street, again walking distance from my school which I did every single day of life, back and forth, back and forth.

But, this school is one of the key points in my search to find my roots because it is one of the few memories I have that mean so much to me. It is where I had my first crush with a boy name Bruce (can't remember his last name). It is where I discovered trolls, square dance classes, riding bikes without worrying someone was going to molest me, friends I'll never forget and a life where my family was complete. It is also the last stopping point before my aunt grabbed my sister and I in the middle of the night, taking us away from our mother, to live with my grandmother in Virginia where I grew up until I got married.

It's really bothered me all these years because I felt I was ripped of not only my childhood, but of the one thing that meant more to me than life itself, my mother and the family life I had.

I guess I'm forgetting the harsh reality of it and that it was in the best interests for my sister and I to live with our grandmother, but if you're ten years old and not only have you lost all your possessions, your life you once had, and the mother who you loved with all your heart, it's quite devastating.

For some reason, I shrank into a shell and I felt like my soul had been ripped out of me. I didn't make friends easily, but that could be because I was an army brat and if you've ever been an army brat, you know not to get too close to people because you never know when you're going to have to leave them.

When I thought I was going back last year, I contacted the superintendent of Burbank Schools to ask him if he knew if the school was still standing as this was going to be one of my stopping points. I wanted to walk that same walk and try to see if I could cleanse myself of the ghosts that have haunted me all these years.

It's hard to explain, but I felt I needed to do this.

The superintendent was super nice. He emailed me to tell me that my school had been torn down and there was a new library in its place - the Buena Vista Branch Library. He thought it would upset me, but being an author, it gave me an idea.

I emailed the librarian and asked her if she would accept a donation of my book, Romancing the Soul. She was super nice, too, and told me not only would she accept it, she would give me a super tour of the library and show me pictures of my old school. One was on the wall opposite her office!

So, I'm elated and all that, and then I asked the LA Times if they would be interested in this story and the woman I talked to said yes and to let her know when I would arrive in town.

This was last year and I sure hope she remembers this conversation.

So, things have been coming together for me in that regards, but there are still questions I have and I'm bugging my Internet friends who live there or who lived there with questions about my school and the street where I lived. One even went out of her way to take pictures of the area with her cell phone (I'll be blogging about that, too, along with the pictures!).

If there is anyone out there in cyberland who lived in the area in the early sixties, or even who lives there now, will you please contact me at thewriterslife(at)yahoo.com? I can't get enough information about the area...it's like I have this hunger that just won't go away no matter how much I feed it.

I want to go back home so bad, I can taste it, and whatever information anyone can give me about the area, I would greatly appreciate it!

I will be blogging about the friends who have helped me, but I'm saving it for upcoming posts. I will also be blogging about how this is all going to happen. It's five months away, but time goes by so fast. Forty years went by fast, but I'm determined to find out why this trip is so very, very, very important and I believe it will finally come together in the end why it is that this is one of the most important things I have ever needed to do.

I just know that when I step on the soil, I am going to bawl my eyes out. So, I'm figuring it's going to be one of those closure things. I can't wait.

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  1. Oh, Dorothy...This is such a moving story, it made me cry. I wish you all the best in doing this courageous and fulfilling thing for your life. It is such an important journey, and as a writer, you are going to be able to put words to these feelings that you've had for so long. I can't wait to read about it. You wrote about it so beautifully on this post.

  2. Wow, coming from you, that's quite a compliment! Thanks, Sandi, and have a wonderful Easter!


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