Posted January 29, 2016 – Narrated by Carmen
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The best part of adventure is the anticipation.
Any chance to look up from our packing, prepping, and house selling activities brings on butterflies. We feel like a couple of kids – babes in the woods. The details keep us grounded so, we press on.
We sent Beauty off to Rick’s RV Service Center for a Spa Week!
No major worries, just some proactive deep-tissue maintenance. She emerged today with new brakes drums, magnets and bearings and since she’s pushing 15 years-old, they installed new grey and black water tank valves.
Taking Beauty back to the storage lot and driving away feels like abandonment – but we leave her in good hands. The KOA – located on the Chula Vista side of the Sweetwater River is my old stomping grounds.
Fresh from Seattle, Washington, my family settled in the KOA during summer of ’71 while house hunting. The other side of the river is National City where Jim’s friend, Scott introduced us to each other on 16th Street.
The Chula Vista KOA is one of those full-circle things – a landmark for my life in California.
Transplanted navy brats like us are an untracked dynamic of the San Diego census. We land here with world travels under our belts, go to high school, and when the parents deploy, transfer, or retire to their state of origin we stick around – especially back in the ’60’s and 70’s when California residents qualified for free college tuition.
Due to moving so often in my youth, I have never truly developed a sense of “place” – only a list of destinations.
My place of origin is Alabama, but relocated to another state while an infant so I can’t honestly call it home. I’ve never lived in Mississippi but I call it home because my folks live there. I also call Italy home because I stayed long enough to remember living there. It’s only proper to answer the question, “Where are you from” in one or two words, so I never intrude on others and, when personally addressed, skillfully divert the conversation (Either that or people think I’m a spy!)
But, life on the road virtually begs the question so, I am practicing.
When asked, “Where do you call home?” I will make reference to Beauty as she embodies everything I have ever known as home: a list of destinations. And, when asked, where I’m from, I will say, “I’m from Coronado, California, a suburb of San Diego” … but, like Beauty, Coronado is so much more …
Most locals call it The Island. Realtors seem to favor The Crown Jewel of San Diego, and tour guides flaunt Emerald City because of Coronado’s connection to L. Frank Baum.
Here, a million dollar home can be a 850 square-foot shotgun shack erected 120 years ago to summer the families of New York city children and their nannies.
But not all homes here are tiny. Nado (more insider slang) is known for its period architecture.
Victorian, craftsman and contemporary beach homes priced between two and twenty million are empty most of the time – occupied barely long enough to keep the owners exclusive Hotel Del Coronado Club memberships warm.
But, “We” of The Coronado Ghetto elite (the shaggy-chic, alley-rat, year-round hoods we run with) find a modest 2-bedroom 1-bath slips us nicely between the sheets of what any sane person would recognize as the most exclusive, charming and historic beach community in SoCal – even though older residents bemoan tourism as an encroachment on our tiny village.
But, as I consider myself a perpetual newcomer, encroachment isn’t on my radar.
And besides, what would we do without Zonies letting us know Summer is upon us? When the first heat wave hits Arizona the curious desert dwellers burst from their air-conditioned mini-mansions and dash – before their couture sandals can melt on pavements – into their Mercedes SUV’s where they will sip contentedly through a six-pack of tiny iced coffee drinks on a gripping and grueling 8-hours westerly commute of hellishly hot interstate toward the luxurious reward of cool Baja breezes from the expansive Pacific.
You can always spot a Zonie by their tanned, leathery skin and indoor mall fragrance.
In January (Zonies long departed with the Labor Day festivities) our more elegant, northern cousins fly in.
Canadians alight upon the sands, unfurling near-naked limbs, fluffy and white, confirming to shivering locals – leaning in to the harsh below-70s conditions in beach parkas and full wet-suits – that winter has indeed arrived.
Why of course and the security firm would be the fully armed and loaded United States Pacific Fleet – thank you very much – the very institution that brought Jim and me to this island …
The island where my sister Deborah was born when Daddy was assigned to work with experimental aircraft called “helicopters” and where Jim’s father recovered from wounds he incurred during WW2, then later retired to a civilian job on North Island, four blocks away from this very house …
Other than an itinerant musician, and a few people on witness protection, most of our neighbors washed up here … ex-military, dependents or retired …
There’s just no downside to living in Coronado.
It’s a dog-friendly, cycling, kayaking and walking-friendly community …
… and, the village boasts one of the best micro-breweries in San Diego, Coronado Brewing Company. Jim is already experiencing severe separation anxiety from its beneficent taps.
So, why are we leaving?
We don’t know. Better to ask, “Why stay?”
Why not stay and experience what we well know is a perfectly lovely existence till the end of our days.
Or, should we pluck the fruit before it falls – set out and discover places we may otherwise never experience for ourselves…
In the ancient story of the garden, angels brandished flaming swords to prevent the man and woman (Adam and Eve) from ever turning back toward home.
For me and Jim, those fiery obstructions are steadily increasing property values in Paradise.
So, the answer to the “why leave” question is: “It’s time.”
Like our Dads who departed Dixie – because staying probably felt like surrender – we still have enough youth in us to launch out … to see more, do more, live more!
Maybe it’s foolish to believe you can ever truly extract oneself from a place you’ve called home for twenty years. Perhaps, it would be prudent to leave a trail of breadcrumbs.
Will we drive away and live happily ever after? or will we feel the pull of the leash and return to Coronado?
All I can say is, we avoid making long term plans because other powers – like mortality – do that for us.
But, soon, we will drive The Beast over the bridge to the KOA, hitch up and go live in Beauty because like the gal in the ruby slippers says, “There’s no place like home … there’s no place like home.”