By Edith Maxwell
“Can you ever really go home again?” A pretty classic question, right?
I’ve just been in California for a few days. I was on a panel at the California Crime Writers Conference in Pasadena, had an author event at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in Redondo Beach, and also saw a few old friends before and afterwards, two of them being two of my best friends from high school, Cindy Snyder and Bob Borries.
This visit was especially sweet because I grew up here. I was born in Pasadena. I was raised in Temple City, a couple of towns south of Pasadena. I went to college at UC Irvine in Orange County. I’ve now lived in Massachusetts longer than I lived in California, but I still feel like a Westerner.
So after the conference Saturday evening, I went out for a walk in the velvety air. The San Gabriel mountains – my mountains – loomed comfortingly large and blue in the dusk. I could almost reach out and touch them.
I walked by the Star News building where I’d been a student journalist in high school. I watched how people obediently waited for their green Walk signal even at a deserted intersection. I passed a sign for PCC, the community college I rode my bicycle to (7 miles uphill) for two semesters. And I saw the markings on Colorado Boulevard and Lake Avenue for the Rose Parade. I didn’t try to take pictures, except of the mountains, because I knew I’d remember it all with my brain’s camera.
It brought back so many Pasadena memories, walking these streets on the next-to-longest day of the year, with the Supermoon rising yellow and full. Hiking in the dry San Gabriels, fragrant with wild sage, all the way to the top of Mount Wilson once. Sitting on the sidewalk with my two best friends for hours before dawn to see our friend Vicki Tsujimoto on the Rose Parade royalty float, when she was the first Japanese-American Rose Princess. Getting a sandwich named the Ronald Reagan or the Dick Nixon at Stottlemeyers. Earning my driver’s license on my 16th birthday and then being rear-ended in my father’s 1968 VW an hour later.
I wouldn’t live in Pasadena again for a bunch of reasons, smog and my wonderful life in Massachusetts being primary. But I love it out here. I feel like I can breathe better once I cross the Rockies.
Do you have a place you miss but that you wouldn’t consider living in again? Can you really ever go home?