home sweet home
We spend the nite at more ‘new’ relatives – these are from my grandmother’s side – relatives we never met until I was an adult because my grandfather forbade my grandmother to have anything to do with them – for some unknown (to me) reason. But once my grandfather died, my grandmother began seeing her cousin Paula, who also escaped Germany but landed in California instead of NYC. Apparently my grandmother’s mother & Paula’s mother were sisters – who both married brothers – none of whom survived Hitler but Paula & Fritz, her husband, as did my grandmother, her husband, and one of her brothers.
When we pull up, Hannah, Paula’s daughter, who has been active in the democratic party since arriving on these shores, tells me I’ll have to move my truck later from in front of her home. We are in west L.A., pretty close to the ocean – an older, not palatial residential community of middle-class homes w/broad yards and old trees still standing. I ask why & she says a neighbor had a truck like mine parked in front of his house & the windows got smashed. I tell her I’ll take my chances, like where the hell am I supposed to park?
We make it thru the nite and have an enjoyable breakfast with Hannah sharing pre-Hitler stories of her childhood. Orit is silent thru the whole discussion and later she tells me she was very interested, just quiet.
I’m taking the 101 back to the bay area – I couldn’t subject Orit to 7 daylight hours on I5, nor could I subject myself to a bored Orit after she has spent a day in L.A. As it is, she cannot stop talking about the Oscars and her plans to come back to L.A. to be there when the Oscars happen.
The drive home is almost uneventful – it is so wonderful to be close to the ocean again, to be driving the coastal mountains, rolling up & down the green hills that will soon be golden in the summer heat! I try to push the pictures of 30 years before out of my brain so I can enjoy the beauty that is left – rapidly dwindling but still there. I briefly ponder the shock of people who lived even 100 years ago on this coast as I recall my father’s voice the few times we returned to his childhood stomping grounds in Iowa. What looked like rural wooded farming areas to us, looked like unbelievable development to him – he who walked 4 miles to school every day & climbed out 2nd story windows onto snow drifts. And I feel like him as I see how destroyed the land has become. Orit thinks it is gorgeous – when she’s not dreaming (literally & not) of movie stars and situational comedies.
Leaving L.A., we get over 33 yeahs and only 1 fuck you. By the time we reach San Luis Obispo, we’re ready to fill up – 101 is pleasantly bereft of gas stations as we pass mile after mile of grazing cows, horses, and sheep. The little towns that dot the coast appear affluent & touristy. At the gas station, 2 middle-aged white women sit in their suv & shake their heads in unison while I pump diesel. As I turn to approach them, they purse their lips, roll up their windows, and drive off. When I go into the gas station to pay, I’m surprised to see an Arab man in the middle of this white desert. He is happy to see me & the truck but cautions me to obey all the rules of the road in his town. He tells me how often he & his family have been stopped since 9/11, even tho he’s lived in the same house, his children have gone to the same schools, he’s worked the same job, for the past 11 years. He tells me he feels deliriously happy that he has not yet gotten arrested – happy & guilty because he knows of friends who have been arrested. He tells me he is from Iran & he harbors secret fears in his heart for his countrymen and country. I tell him I am afraid too but that I intend to work even harder to make sure we do not attack Iran – again. He asks me if I am a Jew and I say yes. He says, ah, we should be allies. I wholeheartedly agree.
Off to my beautiful city – the most beautiful city in the u.s. - of San Francisco and then home sweetest home in Berkeley California!!! YEAH!!! Peace, sam