PART II - Double Life of a Little Girl
CONTINUING THE SAGA
As years passed, my ‘double life’ continued on unabated. Shortly after my father’s second marriage, my mother became convinced that the possibility of reconciliation was no longer an option and, so, she began to actively seek a new relationship. This took our fractured family in all kinds of new directions; some of which resulted in my mother remarrying, taking my brother and me hundreds of miles away from my father. This caused our weekly visits to turn into monthly visits which were facilitated by Rail Road from Rodeo, California to the central valley of California. (See: My Love Affair With Trains) Our dual existence took on an emotional side, now. We were a little older and more aware of our circumstances. The fact that there was well over 300 miles between our new town and hometown was not lost on our, still, impressionable emotions.
The look, smell and configuration of our ‘new’ tract home in our “new” town was quite different than the Tudor of our younger years we so loved. This home was small and angular. The rooms were square, 10’ x 10’ and not at all decorative. There was only one level; no stairs to climb and slide down. Even at such a young age, I noticed the difference immediately. I remember feeling as though I were in prison; a one dimensional, plain, boring prison. There was no wainscoting, no crown molding or delicate, decorative woodwork. The house was like dozens of others in a new development with no trees, no landscaping and no beauty.
Brother and I were disappointed and felt like fish out of water. From a beautiful, hill and mountain surrounded valley to agricultural, flatland lackluster; we yearned for and greatly anticipated the monthly visits home.
THE CONFLICT BEGINS and ENDS…. OFF TO GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE
Another tumultuous marriage began to unravel for my mother and her new husband. Nine months in duration; it wasn’t long before we were (thankfully!) leaving the breadbasket of central California! Mother realized, I am sure, that this brief interlude was just a diversion; one which allowed her to make the final break from the past but, obviously, destined for failure. Again, this relationship was divisive and fraught with turmoil. It took no time for her to understand this and move on, again. Back to the past and into Grandmother’s home.
After spending a summer wondering why and what was going on; brother and I were exhilarated at the thought of returning to our childhood environment.
Since our beautiful country home had been sold months previously, we were coming home to no home, at all. So, arrangements were made to live with my Grandmother, on my mother’s side, for an uncertain length of time.
A TOTALLY NEW ASPECT OF “BUSINESS AS USUAL”
Her house was located on the Southern end of our valley. This was, then, the more blue collar, industrial section. Here, many small manufacturers and construction companies were located. The Glove Factory, Paper Products & Paper Bags, numerous car shops and small, family owned, businesses also were rooted in this area. During the year we lived with Grandmother, my brother and I explored our new environs. Strange, different and extremely exciting was our new home! We’d see workers arriving early in the mornings, friendly conversation sprinkled with an occasional, loud “HA!,” amiable chatter among the employees as they exited their cars and gathered in circles, conversation humming while smoke from numerous cigarettes rose above their heads and wafted away in the gentle morning breezes. We were near enough to peek at this unfamiliar phenomenon as it unfolded each weekday morning.
There were sounds in this new place of residence! Humming, drumming, measured and resounding; much like a metronome, the industrial beat of our Grandmother’s neighborhood echoed on in a continual, predictable throb. I found this comforting, strangely assuring and to be counted upon during those quiet times when my child’s mind wandered into fantastical musings, lost in a world of my own.
During these days and months our regular visit with Father continued. Brother and I would hike the open fields of my father’s ‘new’ home, exploring the rolling hills which led to breathtaking vistas overlooking our valley. From this vantage point, we could actually see my Grandmother’s commercial/residential community, the large hospital located on the town’s main street, our former home with it’s big garage and high roof peaks which stood out from the other homes around it which were ranch style, one story, boxy buildings. We’d sit for hours, gazing out at the horizon and watch clouds drift by, casting shadows on everything below. It was magical!
Once again, we were exposed to two completely different life styles, two environments which were at opposite ends of the spectrum. (Looking back, I believe this was a good; no, a GREAT thing, as it allowed our young minds to gather much in the way of experience and information which might not have been available to most young kids; resulting in a broad scope of attitude and ideology).
Having been introduced to another part of life as represented by my Grandmother’s environment, I began to see the world a little differently; with inquisitive eyes and curious questions. No longer were the controlled, comfortable, unusual but reliable years of my early childhood the only option ‘out there.’ There was more…an exciting, alluring more!
Coming: In order not to make these hubs too long and, therefore, perhaps less read due to time constraints of other hubbers (Oh, how this is so true…I wish I had the time to read ALL the offerings of ALL my favorite writers…there just is NOT enough time!)..I am breaking this up into shorter pieces…