Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Sweet Peace #24: Returning to a place known and unknown

2001 Memorial

In case I’ve ever wondered, I would not have made a good pioneer. Those hardy folks felled trees to build cabins without the benefit of step-by-step instructions in four languages and exactly the right number of screws in little plastic bags labeled 4C.

In the time it has taken me to assemble a wire storage cubby delivered by amazon and held together by ingenious plastic doohickeys, they could have skinned a bear, turned it into a parka and mukluks, and headed out to snare snow rabbits for dinner. My survival skills would have been measured by an egg timer.

I thought this would be an easy move. After three significant downsizings, I was living in an RV. How could moving be an issue when I had so little stuff? The challenge came when I moved from an everything-is-built-in RV to a bare-walls apartment. Even when you have little stuff, if there’s no place to put it, it looks like chaos.

However messy this move has been, I’m here, in the place I never dreamed I’d be able to return to, the place I fell head-over-heels in love with 42 years ago. One interesting aspect of this move is that I moved back to a place I know well (Santa Barbara) but wound up in a neighborhood that’s like a foreign country. Isla Vista is the unincorporated community home of UCSB, population 15,000, mostly university students and employees.

Beneath this tranquil, ocean-front community, rests a history of violence. Five people were killed in a vehicular homicide in 2001 and a murderous rampage in 2014 left six people dead and another fourteen injured. Plus, you could say that the same war in Vietnam which brought me to California in 1968 also brought me to this place where I plan to end my days.

The late 60s were a time of violent protests. In February, 1970, UCSB students began to riot and wound up burning the Bank of America. Governor Reagan sent in the National Guard but the tension continued for two months and finally abated after a student was killed.

During those days of conflict, student population dropped and a recently constructed dorm was sold to a group who turned it into an independent, senior living community … Friendship Manor … my new home. Who knows what new adventures this new life will bring, however, on my morning walk, I heard three different languages being spoken by young students just beginning their own adventures.

I am deeply grateful to be in this place at this time.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like a perfect place for you, dear friend. New memories in a semi-familiar place. 💖