He lived in Yucaipa.
It is beyond ironic that I drove the distance between San Bernardino and San Diego 12 times in a month that summer and I didn’t get into one accident.
I found myself in this little town where family was key. If you didn’t have four dirt bikes or didn’t ride motorcycles at Glen Helen every other weekend — on top of not owning three Ford vehicles — you were dirt. This family I was in love with. But the distance was too far. It got old, and my mentality thrust me back into reality when I realized this wasn’t what I wanted.
It was the last time I would be making a trip back down to San Diego from the 909. Later, I was struck by the irony.
I was in the number-two lane, passing by Auto Park Way, going 70 miles per hour, and a car accident happened. It wasn’t even me — I got lucky. A Mustang spun across my path and hit an SUV. I drove right through where they had collided. It was crazy. Irony saying to me: get the hell out while you can.
“Blue Slide Park. Mac Miller.”
We’d argue about the music driving to and from Los Angeles or Long Beach.
“Is that even music?” I’d say. “Let’s listen to Nesian N.I.N.E. or one of the Marleys.”
There was always that one flaw in the relationship: he wasn’t a reggae fan. It might as well have been over before we even started.
Mom would say, “Honey, you can’t force things. Just let them happen. Hawaii might happen, but if you are happy, don’t end things because of your future plans.”
That was the usual mother-spillage I’d hear between my failed relationships or when they were in the process of failing.
My mom makes up these crazy thoughts in her cranium about young Filipino men that are in her Spanish class, men I should be betrothed to in future years. Not that I’m objecting.
“See, isn’t he cute? He’s the sweetest thing. He loves his mom and sisters and cousins, that’s how I know he’s great.”
Little does she know that one day I’ll run away and get married in Tahiti and no one will know.
My first car accident happened when I was four.
A sunny day in Pacific Beach. My eyes were as big as marbles. I clung to my SeaWorld cup while my mom clung to me. Half of my face was bubbly and charred, which would surely be a scarring burn. Now, I can’t even see it.
It was the year Notorious B.I.G. was shot, the year Princess Diana was killed, the year Titanic won 11 Oscars. It was the year my parents had their irreconcilable differences. The start of mother’s and father’s single status.
Now this seems like an everyday commodity. Divorce. But when I was not even in my adolescence — still a baby, I didn’t even know the difference between Britney Spears and Bob Marley — it was all only noise in my brain, my life perspectives unconscious for years to come. From that day on, my relationships skills lagged and my future driving skills were destined for failure.
My dad or mom, depending on whether it was Wednesday or Sunday, would drive on Highway 67, through Scripps Poway Parkway, down Interstate 15 that merged into the 163, all the way through Sixth Avenue. Times like these made me feel like a nomad.
There’s a lot I don’t remember, but I do recall controversy over weekly visits, a routine I hated at such a young age. Dad’s new girlfriends. Mom’s new boyfriends. Constant new homes — five in Ramona alone by the time I was 11. My mother and I began life with a new family. We packed and moved down the hill to Santee. That was my introduction to the wild ways of East County.
Usually I was an observer in toxic situations, taking part in nothing but conversation.
Just two years ago, when I was living here, some kids found themselves in endless amounts of mischief, a place where accidents cause death. Manslaughter.
Families were split and cracked apart that night in April. A Volvo. A Passat that flipped multiple times, killing all the passengers in the car.
The 52 plus the landfill equals death-by-car-racing. Decisions that now reap regret.
The driver of the Volvo, Michael Johnson, was a boy I met in the sixth grade.
It’s been at least two years since we’ve spoken. Kindness and a good sense of humor are all I remember of him. Not the third-degree murderer. That’s what the cops busted him for, though he wasn’t even driving the car that crashed.
Throughout the ’90s I lived off Laurel, where today I spend a good amount of time. Ramona is where I used to play cowboys and Indians. I’ve seen San Diego in its multitude of diversity.
I lie in bed during the week in Bankers Hill and let the sounds of Boeings put me to sleep, and on the weekends, the sound of my ceiling fan and the crickets out my bedroom window.
“Yeah, I live in Ramona and downtown: five minutes to the beach, twenty minutes to Julian,” I told a coworker.
“I wouldn’t mind that. You get it all. ”
Many say I live the life. Downtown, in Ramona, working in Mission Bay, and taking naps on the beach. Most days I’d agree.
My grandparents live in a house on Bankers Hill that could legally be considered historical, built in 1916. The wood paneling in the upstairs bedroom is the epitome of old-school. Two blocks up, there’s a high-rise building that was built not too long ago. Block by block, you are never quite sure what you’ll find between Front Street and Sixth Avenue. It’s a surprise, like Christmas morning: a homeless man wearing different shoes on his feet, then…look at that multimillion-dollar home.
The other morning, I ate at the Hash House for breakfast.