Monday, June 11, 2012

Goodbye, Temecula

Later this month -- June 18th, to be specific -- marks the beginning of my eighth year of calling Northeast Ohio home.

While I was born in Madera, California, in the center of California's agrarian Central Valley, just before my fifth birthday my family moved to Temecula--where I grew up, explored, learned and lived until I jumped ship, moved out, and moved to Ohio to start my adult life.

[Incidentally, until I moved to Ohio, I had quite a hard time telling the difference between Ohio and Idaho. When you live in Southern California essentially everything, sans Hawaii, is North or East, if not both. Thus, both Ohio and Idaho were Northeast and for my daily life that's all I needed to know]

But while I love urban Northeast Ohio -- Manhattan is perhaps the only other place I could imagine myself living at this point in my life, and I couldn't afford to live in Manhattan -- I still consider Temecula to be my hometown.

[When people ask where I'm from, I'm conflicted and usually barf something along the lines of "Originally, Southern California; currently Cleveland"]

Temecula's population has exploded from about 25,000 when we arrived in 1989 to over 100,000 in 2010. My parents, long divorced, sold the home I grew up in not long after I moved to Cleveland (and seemingly days before the housing market imploded). The one concrete thread tying me back "Home" has been my mother.

I've always assumed that I'd make it back to Temecula from time to time, if for no other reason to visit her and in the process running my wheels through the same main drags (now with twice as many lanes) and back roads (now with six times as many traffic signals) that I learned through my youth -- passing memories on the sidewalks, sitting in the same In-N-Out Drive where I learned the wonder of a great burger.

[The same drive through, on Jefferson Avenue, that used to know my dad and his car well enough that he'd get Christmas Cards from the staff]

Occasionally, even seeing a movie in the theaters where I spent several years with technical reign for a week at a time during the local film festival. It was great fun trying to piece a top-notch event together with a box of random bits and no budget, developing a voting system for the audience choice categories that I still think is pretty darn cool (though I'd probably do it differently). I learned how platter-based 35 millimeter projection works, and how to deal with difficult people.

[Independent filmmakers can be very difficult people. I think those memories, combined with the number of times I had to threaten to have the police remove a belligerent filmmaker from the projection booth -- somewhere they knew they weren't supposed to be in the first place --  may be the main reason why I haven't brought myself to visit the Cleveland International Film Festival]

With the boom in population things may have changed but the Temecula I remember was far from perfect. A suburb without an urb, being at least hour (or up to three, depending on traffic) from San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County, it was a city of commuters but no permanent culture within easy reach. Sure there's the Film Festival  and the Balloon and  Wine Festival and my high school produced some amazing shows (including The Who's Tommy, a rock opera -- where my true love of technical theater blossomed, and Chess, from Tim Anderson and the male half of ABBA) it was nothing like Cleveland.

[Truthfully, though how many other places, can an average guy live within walking distance of a both a world class art museum and one of the world's great orchestra halls, inhabited by some of the finest musicians, while having dozens of other venues within a 20 minute drive]

But anyway, on Wednesday, that last tangible thread snaps. My mother is embarking on her own new adventure. She's moving to the Portland area. And I have to admit that that there's the small sense of loss, and part of me thinks it's highly unlikely I'll find my way to Temecula again; another part thinks Rachel and I will find ourselves visiting Wine Country, but if we do we'll be doing it as outsider tourists rather than insiders.

Sometimes pointless nostalgia feels good.

And I'll leave you with the rock band New Years Day's Temecula Sunrise.

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