all the leaves were brown

07/04/2022 0 By BuddyCushman

Today is the one-year anniversary of my first day as a full-time resident of California.


In 1977 I took my first airplane ride, Boston to LA, and began crashing on the floor of my best friend Bob Zimmerman’s shared cottage in Venice Beach. Soon after we got a place together in Santa Monica, and I got the coolest job as the manager of a pizza place – Zeppy’s – right on the pretty famous Venice Beach walkway. My intention was to live in California forever. Then I was on a 96-hour bus ride back to Boston a few months later. In the summer of 1982 I hopped on one of those cross-country Greyhound journeys – again – and began crashing with Bob (again) this time in San Francisco, where he’d moved. To find a job at the Chronicle, no doubt, and live in the greatest city in the country probably forever. One month later I was back on a bus, down to Anaheim where my high school pal Nicky DeMesa picked me up and drove me farther down to the University of California at Irvine, where I crashed in a spare room in his and wife Heather’s graduate student housing, and from which – using their second car – I actually did find part-time newspaper work at the San Clemente Daily Sun-Times, covering all kinds of normal and strange high school sports. New Year’s eve day Nicky drove me to the Laguna Beach bus stop to head – yup, like the Stones sing in “Memory Motel”, – “Back up to Boston.”

Then, early in January 2006, I drove my black Taurus most of Interstate 81 and all the length of Route 40 and crashed with Bob (again) in El Cerrito in the East Bay for three weeks, him now joyously married and with a young son (who’s now a sports writer). Then to a basement apartment in the Berkeley hills, then on to a place of my own in Oakland, a couple of blocks from Lake Merritt, and from where I would drive over the Bay Bridge or take the BART into the city (by the bay) to my job in a Haight Street (summer of love) adolescent treatment facility. Working in San Francisco, living in Oakland, all kinds of hot chicks after my aging bod. Come on – here at last, my long-time California summer dream. Finally. Forever.

I drove back to Cape Cod 16 months later. And then, more settled than I’d ever been in my life, my wife of 11 and a half years divorced me in Portland, Oregon, and one year ago today I woke up in a room in a big, rich house in Encinitas, where I lasted three and a half months before cruising down the 5 to here – Golden Hill in San Diego. Where I sit in my rented room typing this on a Monday morning, a long-ago holiday, having been here about eight and a half months now. California dreaming.

When I was 14 I remember jumping around on my parents front lawn in Wareham, Massachusetts, singing “Surfer Girl”, singing “I Get Around”, singing “Surfing USA”. The beginnings of a life-long dream to live here – here in California – someday. The California dream. Like, right here where I am this morning.

And yet.