We had a terrific time reminiscing about what it was like to be free-range kids in the desert. By age four, we'd both learned to avoid scorpions and tarantulas. We knew cholla or jumping cactus could bite you badly. We knew not to go barefoot where bull weed grew because the thorns were dreadful. We learned to play outdoors, to ride our bikes in sand without helmets and to be back indoors when the heat of the day reached 95 degrees.
Aleta left about 25 years ago to move to Anchorage. That was abrupt, from the high desert to Alaska. She loved it. A few years later, she moved to Burlington, VT to be closer to her boyfriend's family. Grandkids are so important.
I left first in 1969 to go to grad school in Tokyo for two years and returned to finish my degrees in Southern California. I had no intention of leaving until I met my future husband in a bar in Tokyo. We were both there on business, the only two non-Japanese in the bar. He's the only man I met in a bar and kept. That's a story for a different post.
I took her to see the Beatles. I don't know what was more exciting, the group itself or the silly girls screaming and tearing their hair out. It was her first visit to the Hollywood Bowl.
We had a host of dogs when we were little. She had a little brown brindle mutt named Chipper. She hadn't been born when her brother had a German shepherd named Duke. Great dog for a boy and a desert. I had a red mutt named Rusty. So I wasn't as creative in naming pets back in those days. Heck, I was only nine when we got Rusty. We had more dogs over the years, but both are pup-less now. I don't think either of us will get another dog. The last ones we each had were so special that no other dog can replace their memories.
Our lives took us all over the world. Odd that we ended up so close to each other. We meet twice a year in August for the races in Saratoga and in December for a friends and family 'Tween the Holidays party in Hyde Park, NY. One of these days I'll get her and Duane down to the lake. I won't threaten to throw her in this time. She's a sailor and has lost her fear of large bodies of water.
When we are California Dreamin' it's because we have great memories of where we grew up. I've put several into short stories. One of these days, maybe I'll share "Toad" with you all.
Where did you grow up? Do you have fond memories or could you barely wait to escape?
Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I'm really excited that the trade paper edition of Uncharted Territory was released this week. Please follow me on my website, on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.