I walked into my little one’s toy-filled bedroom and opened the blinds to look outside the window. I saw a front lawn ravaged by the California drought. I stood there and could hear a faint sound. What was that? It was a song…
No way. The ice cream man. When you hear that song, something primal rises in you. You automatically dig into your pockets to find any change. You have visions of Choco Tacos…Drumsticks…Chocolate Malts. You become a kid again. Your legs twitch because you know you don’t know how much time you have. You grab whatever cash you have and run outside. I did…and then I realized I didn’t have a shirt on. This would probably cause the ice cream truck driver to drive away with a thirty-something old asian man running after him down the street.
Not a pretty sight.
But this made me realize how much has changed in a few months. A few months ago, if I stared out my daughter’s window, I would see an empty backyard filled with weeds. I was stuck back then…stuck in wine country. Stuck in a town, I couldn’t afford to live in. Stuck in a town that was trapped in third world thinking. Surrounded by tourists carrying wine glasses…surrounding by the feeling that we would never fit in. We tried. We were involved in the community. I coached boys basketball at the local private school, we volunteered for events. But, still felt a disconnect.
Our old world seemed far away. And we were in the middle of nowhere. It took an hour long drive to even see things we were used to seeing. We were farther away from family and friends. And it took a toll on us. We stayed there for 4 years and watched my daughter grow up in this community. She started school there and developed friendships. Our roots were starting to grow here, but our hearts were elsewhere.
But, one fateful night changed everything. It was late and I heard screaming from outside the living room window. I walked outside and saw two of my neighbors fighting, one on the ground hiding behind a tree…and the other screaming. There were threats of violence and accusations of beatings. And this was coming from two women in their sixties. The police were called and I was questioned. Don’t worry, I made sure I was wearing a shirt.
The next day came, but I started to notice things. Random people started to wait outside of my neighbor’s house…the house that had the two sixty-year old ladies fighting. One minute the random people were there…the next minute…gone. It happened all hours of the day…and night. And at night, I heard banging on the walls…screaming…yelling. And knocks came at my door asking the same question:
“Hey…is Frank here?”
No, there is no Frank here. This went on for weeks. Screaming, banging, yelling, random people coming in and out of my neighbor’s place….people knocking and asking for “Frank.”
I knew what was going on next door. This was not safe. We had to move out of there. Out of wine country…out of a community where 60 year olds practiced MMA moves on each other.
We found a place back in a town where we grew up. And I feel whole again. Yes, I still commute to make sure my daughter continues school in the same place. So, her education roots still grow in the same place. And yes, I am still a basketball coach, but now I am a paid coach working for the district.
So, now when I look out my window…I don’t see sadness. I don’t feel stuck. I see “home”…and the daily white truck filled with happiness.