Saturday, April 21, 2007

The House on Oak Street

As most of you know, I'll be taking a trip back home in September. It's not your usual going back home journey. It is a trip that will be filled with bygone memories and, hopefully, new beginnings that will help cleanse my soul of past haunts, so to speak.

If you look in the right hand sidebar, you'll see past posts of why it is that I am to make this trip, so I won't get into that, but there have been new developments that I must blog about so that I can remember all the friends that have helped me make this dream of going back home again possible.

I was driving home from work today thinking about how much I really don't care for where I live now. It's not a horrible place, but with the recent robberies in my area, it's a place where I really don't want to live anymore. I know this happens around the world...god knows I watch it every day on the TV about how sick this world is, but after the massacre at VA Tech and the robberies at gunpoint that has taken place the week before and yet no one has been caught, it makes me not even want to go out of my own house. And it shouldn't be this way.

I had a co-worker come into the restaurant today and we were talking about the recent events being blasted on TV and she said, "You know, this used to be a nice place to live."

Anyway, when I was ten, I was dragged across country to live here. Three-thousand miles away from the home I used to live and was forced to blend in with people and a lifestyle that I just wasn't used to. It was hard. Being an army brat, I was used to living all over the place, but this time was different. This time, I didn't have my mother beside me.

My grandmother was like a mother, though, and I loved her very much. But, I couldn't help to think of my mother 3,000 miles away and I couldn't do a thing to bring her to me.

Ahh...that was many, many years ago. And, I really can't blame this area for the way I's probably a nice place to live...for someone else.

I have managed, though. I got married, had two beautiful children who I love to pieces and am very proud of. But, in all the years I have been here, there was always this haunting urgency to go back home.

Of course, it wasn't that easy. California was all the way across the country; not exactly a short road trip. So, I suppressed this urgency to go back to my roots and have tried to ignore the fact that there was always some kind of emptiness that just couldn't be filled.

I was telling an online friend about this one day and she told me I really needed to go back. Neither one of us knew what would happen once I did, but she could tell this was really bothering me. After all those years, I still couldn't chase it.

So, because of this friend, I am going back.

I had planned to make the trip last year, but something came up and I couldn't go. Looks like this September, it's going to happen.

When I found out I was going for sure, I began to do some searches on the Internet for my home town. I lived on Oak Street in Burbank, California. I attended Abraham Lincoln Elementary School there. And this is my intended destination.

As a boomer, I think a lot of us are looking into our pasts for different reasons. My reason is to find my inner child again because once I do that, I believe I'll get a better understanding of why certain things happen and will stop questioning what could have been and go on from there.

I have had a lot of online friends help me and that's the reason for this post. There is a woman named Kimberly Robella who just happens to be one of the best artists out there and who just so happens to be a member of one of the online groups I moderate for authors. When I mentioned this trip in my group, she emailed me offlist and told me that she passed the Buena Vista Library (what used to be my old school) every day to work and would be more than happy to send me pictures with her cell phone.

I was elated! Thank you, Kimberly! ;o)

So, this is the first one she sent. This is a picture of the Buena Vista Library where the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School stood. Even though my old school no longer stands, it is the same ground I walked upon in my childhood. Can you imagine how emotional it is to see this?

I mean, this was my childhood! Right in front of my eyes is the place where I walked to, day in, day out. Oh, the memories. I remember one time I was walking home for lunch and this bully kid decided he'd try to scare me and run me down with his bicycle. Just as he was about to hit me, I jumped over to the side. Guess what. He veered to the side, supposedly trying to avoid me, but never the less, he got me. Limping home, I begged my mother not to let me go back to school that day. I was humiliated.

Now, the next picture is Buena Vista Street. This is supposed to run past the library and supposedly to the first house I lived. I'm still sketchy on where that house was, but at least this gave me an idea of the route I took to go home.

But, it wasn't the first house that held the most memories. It was the second one. The house on Oak Street. To get there, I would have to take the road opposite the school, which wasn't Buena Vista and I can't figure out just exactly what that road is called, but I know when I went out the back of the school, I veered left, walked down the street, then cut a left. My house was a little ways down that road but intersected Oak. I'm trying to figure out what the name of that street is, too, but I'm thinking it's Olive Street.

Anyway, Beverly surprised me today with two shots of Oak Street as it is now. Keep in mind it's been about 45 years since I've been there, so I know a lot of change has taken place. But, even though buildings come and go, the streets usually stay the same. Usually.

So, here's what Beverly sent me today from her cell phone...

It's looking to me that that corner you see there to the left is where I used to live. The house is different, as I presumed. But, that's the corner of my childhood.

This next picture is Oak Street heading toward Buena Vista.

If you could just imagine what it's like to be staring at these pictures. The things that are going through my mind. The trouble I'm having trying to get my memory to latch onto these images and remember. The memory of my mother standing in front of the stop sign in the first picture and me taking a picture of her. The memory of a life I once had.

I feel as if my body was transported to Virginia, but my spirit still lingers on Oak Street. I can hear my mother's laughter and all is well again. I am that child again. There is no massacre with someone brandishing guns and shooting innocent children who were to embark on a new life. There is no fear.

It was a time in life when you could roam the streets and not worry that someone would harm you. Don't we all wish we could have that again?

Unfortunately, that place does not exist anymore. But, what if...what if for a brief could transport yourself back to that time?

This is what I'll be doing in September...visiting that child again...that child who lived on Oak Street.

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  1. Wow, how cool is that to view the corner where you use to live.. I have gone back and seen the two houses that I grew up in and they still look the same, not much has changed. I'm going to go see if the house where I started kindergarten is still there and what it looks like now. I'll let you know!

    Good luck in finding that child that you left in California! Hugs my friend!

  2. I hope your visit only adds to the pleasant memories you have!

  3. Oh Martie and Miss C, it's unreal! Just wait until you see the picture I'll be posting tomorrow. It's an aerial shot of my old school back in the early sixties. A friend on a boomer site sent it to me. If you zoom in on it, you can actually see the school, the school yard, everything!

  4. This so wonderful, Dorothy. I can't wait for you to see and feel it all in person. I often dream about my childhood home in southern California - in fact, my last manuscript, Vent of a Woman, was about a woman buying her childhood home and all the mysteries it unveiled. Couldn't get anybody interested in it then, but maybe now's the better time. Certainly your story motivates me to try again.

  5. Wow, Kathy...if that's the incentive, it was definitely worth blogging about! Maybe it's a sign. ;o)

  6. Your trip is getting closer. It would be fairly easy to move but you would be leaving all that you have developed over the years living back there. Jobs would probably be easy to find. Would your kids move, too?

  7. I don't even know what I'm going to do at this point, Dick. For now, this trip to California is going to be a pleasure trip. I daresay I'd ever move back because I can't leave my son here and my son wouldn't leave his father who lives here in the area, also. I know one thing...something's gotta give if I stay here. Just not happy. Still considering the RV thing and really seriously looking into them. What an adjustment that would be, huh. ;o)


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