Since purchasing my first car in March 2009, a Silver 2005 Ford Focus, I have made it a priority to travel all over southern California. And put it to good use I have.
When I first purchased the vehicle, it had 51,000 (approx.) mile on it. Now in late June, 2009, traveling solely in Southern California and Southern California only (Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino and LA Counties), I have recently reached the 60,200 mile mark. But what and where have I gone?
Well, a majority of the earlier trips where to places I call home or have called home. It’s no secret, as I will explain why later, that I, for lack of better words, hated the 4 years I served in the Marine Corps. Proud of what I did, yes. Repaid my debt to a country that gave me so much, yes. Could of done it in a better way and got treated much better in the process, You Better Believe It!
So when my immediate family moved away from our longtime home in the High Desert’s of Southern California while I was serving in Iraq, I felt empty upon returning home to California. With my new car, I set out to to visit the places locked away deep in my memory. Grandma’s house on Randall Drive in Bloomington, CA. My old house on Dos Palmas Rd., in Phelan, CA, now reduced to a pile of rubble, furniture and misc. items strung about around the yard, the place I grew up on as a Kid on Berlyn Avenue in Ontario, CA and my home in a small trailer (what I consider a low point in my young, turbulent life) on Rattlesnake Hill in Santee, CA.
As I visited each of these places, I feel like i’m someone who went off to a far away place for a really long time with no contact, only to return and find the things I held dear gone or completely changed forever.
I feel like David in the movie Artificial Intelligence, who woke up to find everything he held dear gone forever.
As I walk the hallowed grounds that mean little to anyone passing by, but everything to me, I feel like i’ve lost something that I cannot ever have again. And indeed maybe I have.
I get mixed feelings whenever I walk upon or around my own sacred grounds. Feelings of joy and remembrance and sadness and forgotten dreams. I remember places where I played cars, where I fell over on Big Wheels and got hurt, where I found new friends and where I lost family for a time.
Some places with even worse memories I avoided, like the disgrace that is Fontana, CA.
Others, I visited more than once, like the Orange Empire Railway Museum, a place overflowing with memories of joy as my Grandfather, Marion Wesley McArthur and my Grandmother, Donna Mae McArthur took me almost every single weekend, as my fascination with trains knew no limits.
I topped off my adventures with a trip to the Riverside National Cemetary, where my grandparents are both buried. Since I have not visited this site since 2003, it was of great importance that I came and talked with them. I walked upon the site, and cried when I thanked them for everything they did for me growing up. For, through some turbulent times in my young life, acted as an anchor of peace and a refuge at “Grandma’s House” in Bloomington, CA. How, as a fast emerging teenager, my grandmother only wanted attention and love and found too few of it in me. I begged both their forgiveness.
But mostly, I cried because I made a promise. That though my parents did not graduate high school, that although they were into alcohol, smoking and far worse, that though divorce was the only option for my parents, that though I was close to going down the wrong road, on more than a few occasions…
…I promised them, tears in eyes, that the BUCK STOPS HERE!
From this point on, any Alcoser who went and was given life after me would go to college, have a loving caring home free of fighting, arguing, divorce, cigarettes, alcohol and drunks and coming home to parents not even there, would never exist. That all children would be afforded the right to go to college, and have help with homework, and have church every single Sunday.
I promised them that the love and joy they shared in me that shone as a small candle still burned and made it through the heavy rainstorms of my life, and that all the good they did put me in the right direction. A direction of change.
And although I cannot still gain an apology from my dad, something that i’ve been indirectly waiting for for years, I forgive him and my mom for the mistakes made. I forgive them because if it wasn’t for mistakes made, I never would of learned what I believe right is and wrong is and more importantly, WHY!
Although my parents have cleaned up, and are living honest good lives now, it was during my growing up years where I, today more than ever, feel empty about. But at the same time, it’s changed me into the good, hard working person I am today, something most kids don’t have to deal with or learn at an early age (opinion strictly).
So perhaps it’s what I can’t let go…or perhaps what I can’t have from the past…or what I can’t change from the past, that brings me into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at the age of 16 looking for a future life and family that can replace the joy I should have always had as a kid.
And it’s college that will lead me to the fastlane of that dream every human being is entitled to.
So I sit here in my barracks room at the Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, CA Barracks 1411, RM 436 sitting on my bed with boxes all packed up around, writing this post as a start to a new blog about the exciting future adventures that will be college. I’m mostly packed, almost completely checked out of the Marine Corp, and on Thursday, June 25th at 10:00 AM, will pile into my Ford Focus, and begin the long drive to Provo, Utah with a night stop in Mesquite, NV.
Having been in a bubble for so long of always having food, housing, bills paid, etc, I don’t know what to expect. But i’m confident that everything i’ve planned till now will work out. I got a job interview lined up, I have student housing paid for and waiting, deposit paid, and I have the freedom of no longer being in the United States Marine Corps to get back in control of my life again.
I’ll see you all there!