My City Was Gone: Return to the Valley

I’m in the Valley to see my younger brother get wed. I am happy to say that the girl he married is lovable and decent. The ceremony was beautiful.

But this whole time I am here, I felt alien. Who wouldn’t? The areas that I grew up changed for the worst. Graffiti on ageing stucco. Strip club advertisements. Heretical storefront churches. Crap traffic. Crappier neighbours who would blare out Mexican oompa music at 2 am in the morning, let their unlicensed packs of dogs roam around the streets filled with dog turds. My brother’s dinky house has a huge gate that he locks every time. Back home, I locked the doors, no gates surrounding each house like a mini penitentiary. As if that was not enough, my mum broke her upper arm and the local hospital screwed up in stabilising her arm and she had to wait for a referral and someone to cast her. In Fort Wayne, the Parkview guys would immediately work on her and she could see a specialist the next 2 or 3 days. When Mum and Father move into Indiana, there will be lawns without sprinklers or yellowing grass. There will be more churches that look like churches. My parents can sleep in silence. Brick and wood siding, no cinder block gated fences. And best of all, fast service. No stupid bureaucracy holding up medical treatment, no two hour waits at the BMV to get a permit or plate renewal.

In-N-Out was why the forces of nature did not make California disappear into the ocean. It was super delicious. The magical flavor of grilled onion, sauce, and melted cheese inspires many top chefs, and is cheaper than most places. It tasted like home; however, it does not erase the strangeness of a different land. Like Chrissie Hynde have sung, our cities are gone. And I must return to the Fort Wayne area where I lived for 15 years. I look forward to returning home.