That morning John said goodbye and headed home to take care of some business. He wanted to make reservations at his favorite place in Pismo Beach for my upcoming birthday, and said he had a few other things to attend to.
We were so happy.
The night before, John told me he loved me just seconds before drifting off to sleep. We didn’t speak of it the next morning, but there was joy surrounding us we could both feel.
When John finally asked me to be his girlfriend in March 2012, I thought everything would be so much smoother for us from then on. After the last eight months of just friends to quasi dating I was sure things would settle down.
And they did, for a while.
The very first thing he did was to introduce me to his family. John wanted me to meet his Mom. She lived just 25 miles from the little town where I was born, and had never been back to since leaving with my family at age two.
For several years now, I’ve had numerous people tell me I
should write a book. They read or hear stories of my life, and then proclaim I
need to write about it.
I usually smile and say thank you, but inside, my only thought is, “I don’t know how to write a book.” So I don’t do anything with their advice.
From the time I can remember I’ve taken most people’s counsel
to heart and even felt a sense of “obligation” that I should follow through
with their guidance. Which for most of my life has created a sense of
pandemonium in my brain.
This last weekend I shared a post about a hike up El Toro with My John. I mentioned he grew up at the base of that hill and had many escapades to share. Here is an abridged column he wrote that I think you’ll enjoy.
“You’d think boys would know how to hunt” by John P. Gavin
Who has read the book Lord of the Flies?
When I was in school it was pretty much
required reading. It was written in the 50’s by William Golding and is the
story of a group of young boys marooned, without grownups, on an island
In the book the boys quickly revert to a feral
state and run about howling, fighting and wielding crudely made weapons. I
remember reading it in class and thinking “what’s the big deal? That’s no
different from my neighborhood”.
Not to knock Mr. Golding but the boys in my
old neighborhood did not require an island without grownups in order to channel
our wild side. All we needed were the orchards and forests at the edge of town
– and a little imagination.
My neighborhood was bordered to the west by a small mountain that had been named El Toro by the Spaniards who discovered it (under the feet of the Chitactac Indians who were already living on it). To the north of us was a large walnut orchard that also bordered El Toro.
We virtually lived on that mountain – we knew all the big trees, open spaces and trails. One particular trail we knew of was travelled by a herd of deer that used it to get down to the orchard. They would then pass through the orchard to drink from the pond that lay beyond.
We were familiar not only with the trail, but
also with the time of evening the deer would come down it. In our grubby hands
this was dangerous knowledge. I still remember the summer day we sat in Dave
Mead’s garage talking about what our next adventure (the word ‘mayhem’ would
work equally well) would be when one of the guys blurted out “Let’s hunt the
deer in the orchard!”
To us an idea like that one did not require any discussion further than working out the details.
My little brother Brian asked, “What will we hunt them with?”
Someone shouted “Spears!”
Dave’s brother Richard wondered aloud “Where do we get spears?”
My response was “We make them”.
“Out of what?” Patrick Black asked.
“Knives tied to broom handles,” I said.
Brian wanted to know “When do we get the deer – on their way down the orchard or back through it?” On their way back from the pond we decided – figuring they’d be less wary on their second trip through the walnut trees.
And so we set off to our respective homes to
steal knives out of drawers and cut handles off of brooms. The plan was to meet
at the edge of the orchard about the time the herd of deer would pass through
on their way to the pond, and then quietly filter in among the trees so as to
be in place when they made their return trip.
To this day I still remember shouting, “Get
‘em!” as the deer made their way back toward El Toro. Out jumped five running,
shouting, spear wielding boys; and as the terrified deer spotted us they all
bolted in unison. I launched my spear, as did the others, hoping it would fly
true and hit its mark – a big deer charging past me.
I didn’t hit my target that day in the
orchard. None of us did. Heck, we were little kids with kitchen knives tied to
broom handles – what damage were we really going to do? I think all we
accomplished was scaring the daylights out of a bunch of deer – well maybe that
and the realization all we truly wanted to do was follow them around.
Birthdays are a big deal to me, but you probably already
know that. And without trying to state the obvious, this next one is perhaps
the biggest in the deal department yet.
I can only remember one birthday party as a kid. Just one. I
may have singled this one party out, but I doubt it. The reason it may stand
out the most is that was also the occasion that my younger brother, Brian,
decided to stand on the fence and pee in front of my friends.
Thirty-five years ago today, I woke up at 6am and it
Just like the book said, the very first sign of ‘delivery day’ came, and I knew I would be meeting my first child that day.
Everything went like clockwork and by 2pm his father and I
headed to the hospital. And at just before 5pm we met our son for the very
Adam was born on Dec. 30th and I took him home on
Dec. 31st…New Year’s Eve. Only he wasn’t Adam then. We had named him
Christopher Adam, but when I got home and looked down at his little face, I
started crying and said, “His name isn’t Christopher!”
Yes, I know, you hear so many of us touting that it’s wonderful and amazing and enlightening and empowering but in all honesty, I’d take my 20 something year old body, over my 58-year-old body any day.
The other day, I plucked a black hair off my chin that was at least an inch long! First, how did that happen? And secondly, how did I not see it until it was an inch long? I think the biggest reason our near-sightedness gets worse as we age, is so we don’t see that sort of thing on our partner’s face.
It’s Sunday night and I wanted to write a little more of my story, but John just left and I’m feeling lazy.
I was in Oregon last week and got back just in time to see John on Monday night before catching the train back home Tuesday morning. He worked all week away from home, and got back Thursday night late.
Right after John asked me to be his girlfriend, he wrote this column for the newspaper. It is still one of my favorites. (You might want to grab a tissue for this one).
A Love Story
My Mom and Dad were married for a very long time.
And it can happen – when a man has been married for a long time – that he becomes a bit low-key in the ways he shows his wife how special she is to him. After enough years of marriage we guys can misplace our flare for the dramatic, and we can underwhelm when just the opposite is called for.
Upon the approach of my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary I think that might have been where Dad was headed. Not that that would have been an unforgivable thing, just the opposite really. Mom would have been happy with whatever he did – but then she’s like that. She was happy to be married to the man she loved – if he remembered an important date, well, that was icing on the cake. Continue reading
On March 21, 2012 John asked me to be his “girlfriend”. I had no idea what that even meant to him.
I’ve used the term “girlfriend” casually and never thought of what it meant to anyone else. To John it was a big deal. It was a step towards “forever” and his experience with forever wasn’t a good one.
I’d met John eight months earlier, and I can say that the best thing that ever happened to us…for us… was the fact that we became friends first. Once the pressure of the possibility of a romantic relationship was taken off the table, we both relaxed and stopped acting like peacocks looking for a mate.
There was no need to try to impress the other in hopes of “pick me”. Continue reading
Lake Havasu City sits on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu, which is part of the Colorado River. It is a fairly new city that started out as an Army Air Corp rest camp. In the late 1950’s Robert McCullough purchased land there and by the early 1960’s established Lake Havasu City.
McCullough wanted to attract visitors to the area and purchased the London Bridge for $2.5 million from the city of London when the bridge there was replaced in 1968. Stone by stone, the bridge was disassembled and shipped to Lake Havasu to be rebuilt exactly. Continue reading
John asked if I wanted to go get coffee and breakfast but then, seeing the look on my face, said he’d go get coffee and bring it back to the room for me. I just wanted to stay in my comfy nightgown and sweater and look at photos from the day before.
It was fun going through all of the photos taken from my Canon, as it did a great job capturing the beauty that is the Grand Canyon. After a couple of hours, I felt a little better so we checked out and headed south to Sedona. Continue reading
My husband, John, travels to Arizona for work every couple of months or so. I’ve tagged along with him a few times, but this last week while he was busy working in Arizona, I was busy helping my daughter in law.
It was the week before Thanksgiving and John wasn’t going to be finished with work until late on Friday. So we decided since he was already there, I’d take the train from Santa Barbara to Flagstaff and meet up with him.
I like traveling by rail and thoroughly enjoy Los Angeles Union Station. Built in 1939, at a cost of $11 million, it still looks as grand as it did back then. Continue reading