La, la, la, la, take me Home

Work calls me out to a part of the city that I haven’t needed to go out to before. Not being up on the traffic patterns out here, I ended up being almost an hour early. No problem: I just put Dutch Bros. Coffee in my GPS. There’s one 2 minutes down the road.  It’s in the parking lot of a small, decrepit shopping center. And, I say decrepit because,  except for a Dollar store in the corner, all the other shops are empty, abandoned.  So it’s when I’m sitting in the drive-thru line staring at a rather distinctive-also decrepit -building across the street, that it hits me. I’ve been here before.

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This is my childhood neighborhood.  I didn’t even realize I was here. My house, was literally a few doors down from that funky brick and yellow building. There used to be some kind of shop in that building -I don’t even remember what, but for advertising they had a bigger than life gorilla manikin that would hold up different sale signs. One if the cheesy man-in-a-suit gorillas. My cousin, who lived next door, and I found it thrillingly scary, and would look forward to seeing it and screaming every time we walked down to the grocery store with our moms.
The building is abandoned now, and it looks ready to fall down. They will rip it down soon,  I am sure. It will be an empty lot for a while, because there is no growth in this neighborhood.  Then they will build a cellphone franchise there.  I want to save it, the way I want to save so many old buildings. But especially this one, because it is the gorilla store from my childhood.
So this parking lot I’m sitting in here,  this is the parking lot of the last Keino’s store to stay open in the Portland area. I spent hours here, with my parents, my grand parents, my aunts and cousins. And I didn’t recognize it. Just yesterday, I was trying to explain to my daughter about the ice cream sandwich Money bars that Gramma used to get for us here.  I find something comforting in the idea that I’ve just purchased my coffee in their parking lot. My last purchase from Kieno’s.  I miss Kieno’s. It’s one of those things that isn’t there any more -isn’t just a given, fact of life, for everyone any more. Things like that always make me sad.
Behind me, is the empty laundry mat where we used to go with my mom or aunt or Gramma to wash our clothes. Gramma had an old wringer washer, I kid you not, but in the winter she would wash her clothes at home and then take them here to use the dryers, because it was too rainy to dry them out on the Iines. This empty laundry mat holds a much less delicious terror for me than the fake gorilla. Once, my aunt Shirley put me and my cousin into one of the big wall dryers there. She thought it would be fun for us -like a carnival ride on the cheap. My cousin went trustingly, but fortunately,  I was hit by a sudden way of preschooler claustrophobia.  I screamed and kicked at the glass so much that my aunt got worried I would break it, and stopped the dryer to chastise me. This delayed things long enough for my mom to arrive from shopping next door, and persevere over aunt Shirley’s drug-addled mind. A few years later my aunt Marilyn ODed.  It was back in the day when people were still polite about that kind of thing so every one said she died of a heart attack.
Already, irrationally, I don’t want to leave the neighborhood. I want to find my small family a little house here. Rent is certainly cheaper here. I want to transfer to the office I’m visiting today, make a difference in the first place I ever belonged.
But I’ve only ever found a reason to come back here once before today, since my family packed up and left when I was a kid. One day, about 5 years ago, I woke up standing there on the street corner by that brick and yellow building. As in, I’d had a huge dissociative episode. I had hours missing. I didn’t know where I’d been or how I’d gotten here. Heck, I was in a whole other state than where I started. It took me a while longer to wander around and figure out where I was. I don’t know how many times I actually walked back and forth in front of my old house before I recognized it. It was almost two hours later when I finally located my car, parked blocks away by the park we used to go to. I’d figured out where I was, but that was in my pre-GPS days, so I finally gave in and called the one person who would be able to tell me how to get home from there: mom. And that’s when mom told me what day it was. It was the only time I forgot the anniversary of my dad’s death.

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Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my Ma & Pa
Not the way that I do love you

Holy Moley, Me-oh-My, you’re the apple of my eye
Girl, I’ve never loved one like you

Man, oh man, you’re my best friend,
I scream it to the nothingness
There ain’t nothin’ that I need

Well, hot & heavy, pumpkin pie,
chocolate candy, Jesus Christ
There ain’t nothin’ please me more than you

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you

La la la la, take me Home
Mama, I’m coming Home

I’ll follow you into the park,
through the jungle, through the dark
Girl, I’ve never loved one like you

Moats & boats & waterfalls,
alley ways & pay phone calls
I’ve been everywhere with you

That’s true

We laugh until we think we’ll die,
barefoot on a summer night
Never could be sweeter than with you.

And in the streets we’re running free,
like i’s only you and me
Geez, you’re somethin’ to see.

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you

La la la la, take me Home
Mama, I’m coming Home

Jade?

Alexander?

Do you remember that day you fell out of my window?

I sure do, you came jumping out after me.

Well, you fell on the concrete
and nearly broke your ass
and you were bleeding all over the place
and I rushed you off to the hospital.
Do you remember that?

Yes, I do.

Well, there’s something
I never told you about that night.

What didn’t you tell me?

While you were sitting in the backseat
smoking a cigarette you thought
was going to be your last,
I was falling deep, deeply in love with you
and I never told you ’til just now.

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is whenever I’m with you
Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is when I’m alone with you

Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you

Ahh, Home
Yes, I am Home
Home is when I’m alone with you.

Alabama, Arkansas, 
I do love my Ma & Pa
Moats & Boats & Waterfalls, 
Alleyways & Pay phone Calls. 

Home is when I’m alone with you.
Home is when I’m alone with you.
-Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

This is the song we were going to play at our wedding, while I walked down the aisle. You can love someone real hard in the hospital. So many times in different hospitals.

This is what optimism looks like.

Sometimes, to discover something new, you have to get lost first.

Sometimes, to discover something new, you have to get lost first.


I made a wrong turn on my way to teach at an unfamiliar location. First, you have to deal with the irrational thinking: Don’t panic. You are early. You have time to turn around and get back on track.  And what if you were late? Is that a catastrophe?  Is it life or death? No seriously.  Will anyone die if I’m late? No. Of course not. So it’s not a catastrophe; it’s an inconvenience.  My GPS will get me back where I need to be. And hey, (here’s the second part of this optimistic thinking job ) isn’t it great that GPS is so available these days? Right here on my cellphone.  I remember how much stress getting lost cost me back in the way back, before I had that. It’s nice to be able to let that particular stresser go. And look, there’s one of my favorite restaurants. Now I know where I can go for lunch in this unfamiliar city. How cool is that? Oh, what’s that? A restaurant with “all organic Japanese salads ” What is that?” I’ve never eaten any place like that before. Maybe I’ll try that for lunch. Trying new things makes me feel pretty good -I like adventures.  It’s a good thing I took that wrong turn back there.

Yes, I really think that way. No, it does not come naturally.  Does it for some people? I can’t help but think so. In fact, I tend to feel thus kind of optimistic thinking comes naturally for almost everyone else but me. That statement has some key words in it that makes me think I may have some irrational thinking in that area, but that’s a job for another day. Right now, the important thing for me to is to carefully practice my optimistic thinking. Two things happened there just now. First, I avoided the downward spiral my PTSD wanted to toss me into that was going to start with panicking over getting lost, and spiral into unfounded conclusions like, “I’m going to get fired!” and probably shoot off from there into doubt of my self worth. Second, I practiced the habit of looking for aspects of my situation that might actually be positive.  That’s really, really hard. If it sounded a little forced there, especially at the beginning,  it’s because it WAS. You don’t start off naturally brushing your teeth regularly without someone, you, mom, your girlfriend -working on it. Reinforcing the habit. And until it becomes a habit, it doesn’t feel natural. Ever tried to diet? You have to consciously practice those good eating habits. It doesn’t just magically happen. For some reason, people don’t realize you can apply the same principles to you thoughts. You can consciously practice optimistic thinking. Until it becomes a habit.

I can’t wait to find out what an organic, Japanese salad tastes like.