“Okay, okay, I know, I know! It’s time for ‘real’ life!” I lectured myself, “I get it … damn, damn, damn! I get it!!”
Life as I knew had begun in Vallejo, a plenty-sunny California city situated on the banks of the Sacramento and Napa Rivers. It’s where those mighty tributaries feed San Pablo Bay, a massive tidal estuary where fresh water from fertile valleys meet with tidal intruders from the Pacific Ocean in the ever-churning, always wild, windy, world’s wonder … San Francisco Bay.
It’s an idyllic setting … spectacular and unique. It overlooks the Carquinez Strait, where run-off from the Sacramento Valley, a geologic marvel that’s larger than many states, rushes to join its confederate from Napa at their confluence with the bay.
Vallejo’s climate was pleasant, fertile and hospitable, made to order for prosperity and harmonious relationships. However, those have always proven to be a bit elusive in Vallejo. In fact the city’s pioneers first christened the place Eden but had to re-christen it later for some moral shortcoming or other.
Some would say it was simply that Generalissimo Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo’s son-in-law wanted to honor his patron … though I’d lean toward the environmental despoliation such a paradise suffered due to its militarization and industrialization… for Vallejo unfortunately sits on a highly strategic spot for such necessary endeavors.
Growing up in Vallejo I had few worries. Those were the Eisenhower years, when America gave its kids the best decades in human history in which to grow up!
Ike kept us safe; our world-war-winning economy showered us with unprecedented wealth; education was cheap; fathers could find decent, living-wage jobs; mothers could stay at home and not face financial ruin; and government was just one of many sections in the Times-Hearld.
I personally focused whatever anxiety I could muster on third base and other such important pursuits. In my teen years I found I had a previously un-mined store of self-discipline that steeled me against the three temptations of youth … girls, cars and a job, which traveled as a team!
And besides, dad drove a panel truck and mom had a perfectly good Lincoln Capri that she hardly drove at all! Thus I found I could happily avoid gainful employment for long periods of time … and I learned how to crawl through prickly financial dilemmas while expending as little time and energy as possible.
But the moment I realized what my impending graduation from Berkeley would mean, I experienced the sort of visceral reaction that seldom visits the lives of the blessed … like hearing you’ve got a fatal disease or getting hit by a car … momentous events when your life changes irrevocably, and you see your future hanging in the balance.
It was time for me to choose!
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