The map in my head is tattered and torn, the memories are faded but I know the way. I can see it from a very far off distance like it is always right in front of me, we get off the freeway, coming off of the Vincent Thomas bridge lowly pulling up to the light that is always red for some reason. Perhaps it is to slow traffic from the bridge, perhaps it is to remind me that this is only a memory and that I must slowly enter and savor every turn. The turn is left and we go over another bridge and under the overhead cross-way that has the city name in yellow boldfaced letters Welcome to San Pedro, or something inviting like that. Here the streets are awkwardly laid out, a myriad of one ways and streetlights and paved sidewalks. The second street you come to, you could nearly miss it if you blink, is W Santa Cruz St . There is an abandoned looking building on the corner, it once was a bar, now a mini church of some sort. The opposite corner houses a Burger King.
I remember when they put that in, don’t know what it was before that? a lot, possibly a laundromat? oh well my memory is stuck on the Burger King, in the late 80’s early 90’s it was a treat to get to stop in here. The house you look for is five or six lots down, this street used to have houses, but since then the houses were torn down and apartment buildings were constructed, or mini duplexes are home to more than 2 families and block out the sun. I learned to ride my bike for the first time from the top corner by the bar, rolling down the slop until I reached the house at the bottom where the sunny patch of grass meets the sidewalk. The house has a long cement driveway and this is where in the summer we would splash in plastic wading pools and lay out sizzling wet bodies on the hot concrete, and climbed on the wrought Iron gates of the front of the house as if we were monkeys on a jungle gym.
We move away from the house on the long sloped street now and even though in reality they are very far apart the next house that we come to in the map of where I live seems as close to my memory as W Santa Cruz St off of Gaffey. We turn the corner onto Daisy street in Long Beach and I can barely see the rest of the street in the hazy light that is either fog or the dullness of my memories. The house seems to be somewhere in the middle and somehow has a large grass yard removing it back from the sidewalk with a path of set back stairs, 2 or 3, that lead up to a little half wrap around porch. We quickly move away from this house to the next in the map and the haze clears.
Evergreen in Lake Elsinore looms up in the distance the freeway veers off onto a country road and winds down to an ugly stinky man-made lake. It is here that the road of our map wraps around and to the far side of the lake off of Main street, a sidewalk-less street, sits Evergreen street. You make a right up the gravely dirt until it connects with the asphalt and there the street begins at the base of a colossal mountain that you later realize is a hill more like, the Cleveland National Forest. Again our house is five lots up on the left hand side of the street with a driveway and 3 citrus trees to the left side of the driveway and a larger unknown to me tree to the right. This street is filled with homes that are filled with memory but I cannot stay long as a much happier place on the map sparkles in the distance and we begin to move on.
Down the long freeway of mostly rural land we soon come to busy and shiny, fun San Diego and more importantly Monte Verde St, when we turn left onto the street and go down the long slope we drive past many bright and happy houses and see palm trees swaying gently in the fresh breeze. We take two unknown blocks and turning around a bend all the while enjoying the beautiful scenery we pass several more two and one story houses until we approach a two story house on the left side with a garage out front and a stone covered wall, that is good for climbing back into ones window after mischievously sneaking out, and a beautifully managed grass yard with tall trees and a protective overhang walk way up to a double wood door, and this is the final stop on the map to where I live. Or more importantly to where my Memory lives, the place where all my stories began.