The Trip West: Day 4

My dad's old house is near Porterville, California.

We’ve been driving through California since yesterday afternoon.

For most of today, we’ve been driving through towns with names I’ve heard as long as I can remember. Modesto. Madera. Fresno. Sacramento.

Last night, we ate at a pizza parlor my dad frequented as a teen. This morning, we drove by his old home. Orchards now cover the ground that once supported his family turkey farm. Fields stretch out where barns once shaded the earth.

As I write this, we are driving north to my mom’s childhood home. My family has moved many times during my life, but my grandparents have lived in the same house since 1964. I remember the way their cement walk felt under my 5-year-old toes.

Driving into California is almost like coming home. It’s the first place I identified with. It’s the first home I located on a map. California held the first chapters of my parent’s stories, and it’s where mine began.

And yet, it’s not a home where I belong anymore. It’s like finding an old glove that, when I slip my hand inside, I realize doesn’t fit the way it used to. I’ve grown and it has aged. We are old friends, but we don’t know what to say anymore.

But for the moment, it’s fun flexing my fingers in the old leather, looking my old friend in the face, retracing my steps back their beginning.

I don’t want to go back, but I don’t want to forget.