Asking my father why he joined the Navy, he said, "I was sick of the trees and the snow. I wanted to see the world." Growing up by Puget Sound in western Washington, I could understand. The rain and the evergreens are monotonous.
But it was more than that.
At 18, he had to prove to himself that he had become a man. His mother and father, after all, never gave him that acknowledgement. He grew up with no sense of self-esteem.
So why after 20 years in the service he decided to go back to his hometown? After he had traveled all over the Pacific Rim, after 18 months in Vietnam, after he had a child growing up in Southern California, after he had finally earned a degree in business and proven himself a leader, what was there for him back home?
Seems like every young man leaves home and then finally returns after he achieved some kind of rite of passage. Maybe my dad was still searching for that pat on the back from his mother and father.
When I returned to San Diego after building my career in Orange County and Riverside County, I found myself with no family to come home to. San Diego was just a place where the innocence ended. It was where one little boy found his parents torn apart, only to end up feeling unwanted, handed off to one babysitter after another. It was where the nurturing stopped, where the loneliness began, and where the resentment grew.
Somehow, I came back to San Diego to find something which I'm still not sure what. But maybe it was to go back to where it all started and try to figure out all this mess, to address the wounds and begin the healing. Somewhere along the streets of downtown, in Balboa Park, in Old Town, Little Italy, or North Park, lies that wounded little boy left behind in San Diego.
|Old Town Mesilla, NM|
But one town after another, Sash and I continue to mold ourselves into new people. All that shit we've been burdened with our entire lives seems to slowly get yanked off and left behind. I'm not sure what demons we left behind in Yuma, Ajo, and Tucson, but it seems clear that we dumped another one here in Las Cruces.
We're not fighting each other. We're fighting all the crap that was laid upon us over the decades.
I only wonder what point along this trip will we finally be free and clear from all this guilt, shame, fear, and anger? What city will we finally rise anew from the ashes of our old wounded selves?
I can't help seeing that I left my hometown to make some kind of rite of passage where I'll feel as if I've accomplished something and come back redefined and rebuilt.