Is it?Posted on December 3rd, 2007 after 16766 miles by Dean Croshere.
“Is Oregon home?”
“Huh?” I had a can of peaches in my hand. I was all prepared for the question I had expected. That wasn’t it.
She gestured at my license plate. “Is Oregon home?” she repeated.
“Oh, um, uh.” This is a remarkably difficult question. At this moment my car is what I call home. My license plate says Oregon, my driver’s license says California, my parents live in California, my last official residence was Oregon, and my road trip isn’t technically over until I get to Oregon. I want to go back to Oregon soon, but I may be spending a lot of time in California. I’m registered to vote in Oregon. My car is registered in Oregon. My life and car insurance is registered in California. I don’t know where home is.
The question was being asked in California, so I stuttered out, “uh, no, California is home.”
“Ok” she smiles.
“Any fresh fruit, live plants, or animals?” That was the question I was waiting for. California has strict rules regarding the import of fresh fruit and live plants to avoid importing the diseases these plants and fruit can carry.
I finally had my chance to give my prepared comment, “Not unless you count…” She waved me through and wasn’t even paying attention when I lamely finished with “a can of sliced peaches.”
I’m unsure what to write about Southern California. It’s kind of the end of my trip in any real sense. Instead of scrounging places to stay from tenuous relations, I’m staying with my parents and grandparents. They kind of have to take me in.
I think I’m going to skip the whole thanksgiving and lead up to it.
There was one major event that I will cover though.
I went to my grandfather’s house.
The problem is that it wasn’t there.
This happened when I was in Alabama. The wildfires swept through Southern California in wind driven firestorms that caused millions upon millions in damage. My grandparent’s saw the fire coming down on the other side of the hill, as they had many times before. Usually it won’t make it across the freeway. It is a big freeway.
This time though, this time they heard from a neighbor than it had skipped the freeway and was burning up the hill. Rather than wait for an evacuation order that may come too late, they packed up the cats and a few papers into the car and drove off to stay with some family.
They didn’t really take it seriously. If they had they would have been a little more discriminating with what they took. They would have actually thought about what their house might look like when the fire was done.
It was remarkable what happened to different things. Porcelain and granite lost all of their strength. The toilet and the countertops could each be crumbled in one hand. Anything that was paper, like the files in the file cabinet, just became a charred stack of flimsy material.
A lot of damage was obviously just from heat. The glass in the dishwasher melted. The jars were all misshapen and flattened. The only things that survived were the chimney, the tile shower, the tiles behind the potbellied stove, and the propane tanks. Oh, and a couple of plastic chairs that somehow got out of the fire.