Sometimes I still feel the loss in the pit of my stomach. Like I was punched. There’s no more going back, or visiting the walls of my childhood. The tangible evidence that served as my adolescent sanctuary is gone for good. It’s so hard to wrap my head around. I visit my house, my old life in my dreams. Touching the walls, walking through it’s long halls. I like to think of my house as alive. Like it’s trapped in the Upside Down as my brother in law said. Like it’s waiting for me and my siblings in another place. Waiting for us to come home.
When I was a young 18, married a Marine who was my brother’s friend in Boot Camp at USMC, San Diego. We married in the little church next to my father’s house in Old Shasta. Amazingly the church survived the Carr Fire. The firefighters used the water from my father’s pool to save the church. I’m happy they did. Even though that marriage was doomed and didn’t endure, I still like the feeling that something from my past still stands.
I’m going to give a brief summation on our father without defaming his name. I don’t want to do that. We we’re raised by both our mom and dad. Our dad worked as a respiratory therapist at Redding Medical and Redbluff Hospitals. He was barely at home. When he was he was at arms length, distant, and often played mind games. I didn’t realize what a “real” father was supposed to be like until my second husband Dean filled his role remarkably with our four daughters.
So back to when I was 18. My husband and I moved down to San Clemente because he was stationed at Pendleton. Then I h
My ex husband and I came home to visit after visiting his home in Denver. I was so homesick on that trip. My sister had given birth to my second niece Danika, and I missed it. I felt such longing to retrieve my hometown, my friends, just to hike in the hilly woods behind my house. It was nighttime When we drove over the mountains from Reno and as we came over the mountain and saw Redding’s lights shining like a beacon of hope, my heart sunk. Could I go back? I felt like it was all right there in front of me, but I couldn’t go back. That single memory will live with me forever.
I had to come stay with my parents during my first year of marriage to my ex because he went on a six month deployment overseas. I didn’t know that going back home would make me feel so displaced. Like I was in limbo. My dad and I had an altercation during this time over his same mind games. For the first time I stood up to him. I had realized after being away how abusive he was. My mom has to step between us as my dad came at me with fury in his eyes. Later that night my mom came to my room and said she was finally ready to leave him. All her kids were grown and she couldn’t live like this anymore. So, we packed up a small uhaul and I helped her leave my dad. She left him without telling him. I left a note for him. My mom moved in with me in San Clemente whole my ex was overseas. I kept in contact with my dad until the following year. He came down but I never felt comfortable, and he was still controlling. I talked to my sister and I decided to cut ties with my father. My brother and sister did one a year later and the other followed after many altercations.
Speeding forward, my family confronted me about my marriage to my first was abusive. I had married someone like my father. With help from my mom I loved away to Seal Beach to be near my mom and her new husband.
My sister wanted me to move back to Redding, but how could I go? I had a failed marriage. I missed my home, my house. Our father stilled lives there. With his new family. He married a woman just a few years older than my sister. She had kids. I tried not to have resentment because we all cut ties. We left. But I did.
When the fire started I kept in constant contact with my sister about where it was. I remember it being in French Gulch. I expressed to my sis what if it comes to Old Shasta? No one thought it would. My sweet Old Shasta. I adored growing up there. Walking to J’s Market to buy Jolly Rancher Sticks with my brother. Playing “army” with my over zealous brother near the cemetery about Shasta Elementary. Picking berries for pancakes along Middle Creek for Saturday morning pancakes. Hanging out stockings on the fireplace while laying under the Christmas tree. That fireplace was my favorite place.
My brother in law is a Shasta County Sheriff. He sent me and my sis photos of the structure after the fire. What will always haunt me is seeing the fireplace still there standing among the rubble. Like it was saying “I’m still here”. When my family and I came up on Thanksgiving my sister and brother in law took us to see the properties. Well we went to see all three houses we lived in that all three burned down. The last one was the one we lived in the longest. All of the rubble had been cleared. It looked son different from what I remembered. We took a fireplace brick. I look at it everyday.
I decided to paint a new expressionist figurative series that displays embodiment with fire in the background. With the fire I feel like I can let go now. I can move on from my past. It also brought me home. I rarely visited up there anymore, but after the fire hit; there’s a longing I cannot shake. I plan to visit Redding often. It’s in my blood.
My new Art pieces are under review from New York, LA, London, and Santa Monica. I’m hoping I can bring some light to my sweet town. I know it’s not really a “town” but a city now. I like to think of it as a town. It’s more dear to me.
So this is my short story of my love for my town rekindled. Reborn from the ashes.