I’ve been very fortunate to not have had the feeling too many times of the rug being pulled out from under me. A few weeks ago, I had that feeling and for a few days there, I was lost. I can’t really go into details about it, nor would it be appropriate to do so here, but I feel like, I can write my way through it.
The first time I can remember feeling like the rug was pulled out from under me was when my dad and I moved out to the Deer Valley area in 1983. I was in the middle of my 8th grade year, and it was a kind of like pulling the rug out super slowly. Like a Band-aid in one of those places where you know it is going to hurt either way but are too scared to just yank it off.
My Dad and I had lived in an apartment on 12th Street and Butler from about 3rd grade, I think, to 8th grade. I’ve mentioned it before, I think, in other blogs. I tend to think of it as my childhood home or, better yet, if someone told me to tell them what my childhood home was, it was that apartment. Ironically, my buddy, Dave, from high school, lived in the same apartment for awhile as a young adult making his way.
Good ol’ C-5 at Hillside Terrace.
It was a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor, but it didn’t really feel like the second floor in a lot of ways. C-5 was on the west side of the building and the apartments were at the base of one of two small hills that are on either side of Butler just west of 12th Street. So our apartment kind of butted up against where the laundry room and pool were and when you were on our small terrace, you could look straight across to those areas.
There were apartments on top of one hill that later became condos, I think, and a house on the top of the other with a very long, winding driveway up to it. That house was, for a short while, a beard for me.
I was embarrassed about where we lived compared to where my best friend in 7th and 8th grade lived, so I initially told his mom I lived at the top of the hill. She was super nice about it, though, and never made me feel like I was “less than” for my lie or for where I actually lived. That must’ve been awkward for them (as it was for me) but growing up going to schools with people who had a lot more than I had was often hard on the ego.
We moved there when my dad sold the house he and my mom had bought before they divorced. That place was on Encanto, and I really only have a few memories of it. I remember my dog, Fred, had something against the sides of the house on the outside and wanted to eat the house. I also remember having to give Fred away because we couldn’t take him to the apartment (or maybe he got re-homed when the divorce happened. That’s blurry, to me).
I remember I had some friends in the neighborhood who I played with, too, and I remember having a really neat M16 toy machine gun that took batteries to make it sound like the real version. I have a pretty strong memory of playing army with the neighbors across the street. Seems like I may have had an army helmet, too. This would have been around 1974.
I think I described the place in my blogs about places I have lived so I’m not going to double down here, but it was definitely a funky, 70s place. I wrote about dropping raviolios on the carpet and that being a big deal. It’s all water under the bridge now. I also remember the neighbors being nice to us, too. I think the husband was named Ralph.
Either way, we moved into C-5 and that was home for a long time. I realized the rug was out from under me around Labor Day 1983 when I started at Deer Valley High School. I wasn’t the most popular kid in 8th grade by any stretch of the imagination. I had friends, sure, and a couple of them are still my friends today, but when I got to Deer Valley, I didn’t know anyone. I was one of 4000+ students and that was an eye-opening experience.
Looking back on it now, I can see the benefits that came from that move a lot more clearly than I could then. It wasn’t like I didn’t like the house my dad bought. It was a brand-new home, and it was exciting to see the progress when we would drive out and see how it was coming along. I was proud of my dad for putting us in a place to move forward and it was cool, but it was also very lonely.
I don’t know if he realized how lonely it was for me, but it was definitely one of the reasons I started ditching school. At that point, I was not sure enough of myself to start a conversation with someone or put myself out there enough to be noticed, maybe. When there are over 1000 students in a freshman class, it is not easy to stand out.
I always wanted to stand out, though, and was so envious of the kids in grade school who seemed to just naturally shine. That wasn’t my path and it took a bit of time in high school for me to build the type of confidence that would have probably made my freshman year a lot happier and helped me want to be at school. I did learn from the experience and things did get better.
When life kicks your ass a bit or you find out something isn’t exactly what you thought it was or someone isn’t who you thought they were, it’s not the end of the world. It could just be a speed bump, or it could be a new beginning. You just don’t know. Time is wonderful for perspective, isn’t it?
See you tomorrow.
No filter. This is the sky from about 10 days ago while we were walking.