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I’m a Stranger Here Myself


This 2015 Christmas, we decided to spend our money on experiences, rather than things. I’ve always enjoyed the doing of Christmas rather than the having and getting of things, so hitting the beach was a solid plan. By beach of course, I mean home. Back to San Luis Obispo, specifically Cayucos. I briefly lived in Cayucos, and it’s my favorite spot to stay when we are on the coast.

The central coast is where I grew up, and of course when I go there I feel less like a tourist and more like a local. As it should be right? Except it has now been (gulp) 22 years since I lived there, so deep down I know I’m a tourist there. I do know where to get the best pizza: Nardonne’s in Atascadero. I know how to order it too; in case you are wondering. The thing is, the people who work there can be a bit pissy about making pizza. So you have to say please, please, please, sorry, sorry, sorry, don’t arrive before your designated pick up time, do not complain when they say it will take an hour and ten minutes for your pizza, smile at the chick at the counter, sympathize when she complains how busy they are, apologize again for bothering her by wanting pizza, and then go home and enjoy the best pizza in the world. I can chat with the owner of Good Clean Fun (where we rented our wetsuits and boogie boards) like a local. The owner and I have a mutual friend (my best friend and he were in the same social circle in the 70s), and he was a customer at the deli where I worked in the early 90s. I can find my way around all the central coast towns, and I know where to park. So I feel like a tourist at home.

The thing is, I don’t like the tourist feeling. I have a need to be a local. I want to know the best spots to boogie board. I’d like to not feel like a poseur when I put on the wetsuit. Part of me wishes I had stayed there on the beach where I grew up, instead of moving to New Mexico and then on to Nevada. But I know that if I had done that, I would not have Tommy or Angi or this life I love so much. I think the sad feeling of local/tourist comes from wanting to live on the central coast full time again, and hoping I can work that out some day. During the Christmas trip, in order to really have fun, I had to let go of this feeling of needing to fit in like a local and just enjoy myself and have fun like a tourist.

Strangely, I have this similar feeling with parenting. In some ways, as the boy gets older, I feel like a tourist in his life. I used to know my boy very well, back when he was a little boy. But now, he is growing to be a young man. My local status is waning. There was a time when he was cuddly and called me Mommy. Now I am Mom, but there is an inflection in his voice sometimes that I can’t even write. Sometimes he says mom like you might say “Ew” while looking at a dead snake on the road or somebody else’s puke (well, any puke). I’m not allowed to touch his head because I might mess up his hair, and his room smells so much like Axe it sometimes radiates down the hall and down the stairs. I guess I will navigate this phase like I managed putting on a wetsuit and getting back in the ocean after 20 years: just jump in and try to act like I know what I’m doing. That defines parenting pretty well. It probably describes most new experiences actually.  And parenting an almost 11-year-old boy is new, just like all the ages to come will be new.

This preteen boy is mostly well-behaved, responsible and sweet, and I do enjoy seeing him push off and do his own thing, since my ultimate plan is to move back to the beach when he is all grown up. Right now he says he is going to come with us and work at the Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos and go to Cal Poly. I’m down with this plan, but I imagine at 18 he is going to say Peace Out Mom, I’m getting as far away from you as possible! We’ll see what happens. I’ll support all plans, except maybe joining a cult or getting a motorcycle.

Reading: The Girl on the Train (so good!), Ishmael (I’m not sure about his one yet), and on deck is What is the What (I’m very excited for this read)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/29/2016 5:01 pm

    Oh Mommy, it does wrench at the heart. But like Crosby, Stills and Nash said “just look at them and sigh and know they love you.” This I believe is why Grand Parenting was invented! And why Grand parents “spoil” their grand-babies, we know how fast this “phase” goes by. I know for a fact that you are not a tourist in his life. You, Heather and Angie are the center of his life, and believe me you are all doing a wonderful job with the raising of an awesome human bean. Member when we called him bean in your tummy… You are fabulous. truly you ARE. ❤

    • 01/30/2016 3:12 am

      Yes, he is such a good boy. And watching him grow up is my favorite thing on the world. I love my little Bootie Boy!

  2. Maja permalink
    02/25/2016 8:44 pm

    Great post! It’s so nice to get a snapshot view into what life’s like for you these days.

    • 06/17/2016 5:48 pm

      Maja! I haven’t blogged in a while. Missed your comment until now. Thanks for reading. I hope you come to Reno soon. We need a coffee date!

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