y'know, i used to consider myself a diehard city girl. well, small town girl, anyway. i grew up in a little town in southern california called placentia, and yes i've heard all the phonetic and spelling jokes, thanks. it sits right in the middle of anaheim (home of the original disneyland), brea, fullerton, and yorba linda. it's a tiny little city, only 46, 500 people at the new millennium, up from 5200 back when i was born.
we had two freeway exits: one coming from the 91 fwy E/W, and the other from the 57 N/S. in the summertime we kids would stand on the brick wall in the back yard and watch the fireworks over at disneyland. we got none of the tourist income from the people visiting disneyland, or even the angel stadium. not even later, when disney built the duck pond and brought hockey to orange county. brea sported a mall that was actually listed in the top 10 places to shop in california a few weeks ago. fullerton has CSUF, home of the titans. yorba linda's where all the yuppy, million-dollar homes are located. and what does placentia have?
crude jokes and lots of mexicans.
but it was my city. i was a southern california girl, through and through. i was mightily in love with the vast expanses of track homes and ribbons of freeway spanning five, six, and seven tiers like a steel and concrete monument to the greatness of man's ingenuity. the smog bothered my asthma, but i'd been living with bad air all my life and near-death-by-asphyxiation experiences were The Way It Was. my bio-mother raised us on southern california tap water, so we were never lacking in our minerals, ha ha.
and the horizon! i would sigh with a passion akin to a lover's, beholding the horizon from the south all the way to the mountain range in the north. from east to west, the world was mine to behold. the sun kissed my skin a honey bronze for nine months out of the year, with a touch of red ochre to match my dark, indian-straight hair that belied the native in my blood. my people had always lived in the desert, and the shale and chapparal, the browns and reds and dull yellows against the pale blue sky was beautiful to my eyes.
the city, the desert, the flatland with a coastal breeze...it was the breath in my body and the blood in my veins. i was a desert creature. i was a city child.
i was a california girl.
then i was taken, kicking and screaming, to the strange and frigid pacific northwest. wild and untamed, raw and primal to my over-urbanized so.cal eyes. where was the dull and constant roar of the freeway not a quarter mile from the house of my childhood? where were the sounds of gunshots in the night, as gangs battled in the disputed territory where i called home, fighting and dying in the alley behind my house? where was the soft hallogen glow of an urban night? where was the horizon, open to me like a mother's arms?
now the only sounds to reach my ears were the soft chirps of crickets and frogs, and the echo of no traffic that was as thunderous and deafening as a scream in the night. the wind in the trees, sighing and whistling words on the edge of understanding. whispering a strange language i could not understand with my city ears. the night was black as a killer's heart, except when the moon was full and shone like bright, quicksilver midnight. it, too, caressed me with soft, sensual fingertips and spoke in a tongue i could not understand but my skin could feel. the vibrant and verdant trees towered over me, touching the sky into eternity, and sent me into such wild panic attacks because i could not find my beloved horizon.
my neighbors had farm animals. animals! horses and chickens and llamas! cows! i actually almost ran off the road in my car a few times because my city eyes grew wide whenever i saw something so incredible. i'd only ever seen farm animals once, back in preschool, except at a great distance. and never anything so exotic as llamas! and i'd never seen a tractor on the street before. ever. it blew my urban mind.
and yet...now i visit so.cal and i return to my northwestern wildness ill from the polluted air and hard, overly-chlorinated water, the hostility and natural apathy. the noise is deafening. we're talking seek-and-destroy my inner Funk. my soul has flourished in the softness of the oregon wilderness, with its rolling, verdant hills and soughing trees laden with sweet scents and snow as the season dictates, and crystalline cold streams secreted away in fae corners of anywhere...
town or country? my spirit is wed to the wild country. i'm from oregon...what are you talking about?
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