Trailer Park Confidential

My Short Life as a California Dreamer

Our other neighbor, Doc, is a retired family practitioner whom I've known for more than 10 years. He's glad to have me back. Likewise. He and I have a running chess game going. We built a platform that sits atop the fence between his yard and my mom's yard and keep a chessboard on it. I check the board whenever I go outside, moving one of the pieces if it's my turn, then go on my way, waiting for Doc to respond at his leisure. A game can take two weeks.

All of my friends are married now. Their wives are into Bunco parties, whatever those are. I haven't looked up Jill since I've been back, and I don't think I will, but who knows? I do know that tonight I have to bowl. I'm in the Nail Biter's League at Imperial Lanes with my cousin. Did you know that Toledo has more bowling alleys per capita than any other city in the country?

The officer who patrols my street is starting to know my face; he waves now when I'm out jogging. My old pharmacist, Daryl, remembered me and actually stopped what he was doing to shake my hand and catch up with my life, even though he was busy and had customers waiting. That means something.

I found my old unicycle in the garage. I'm having a new pedal and tire put on so I can start riding it to the carryout and back, since I had to leave my beach cruiser in California. I take lots of naps on my mom's sun porch—ungodly humidity makes you drowsy–and I started playing guitar again.

I went to the driving range that sits right next to the last remaining drive-in movie screen in our town—the Sundance Kid Drive-In—with my dad yesterday. We shared a bucket of 100 balls, taking our time, watching each other swing.

"You got all o' that one."

"That one had a nice fade on it."

"Maybe you oughta try a crotch hook."

There was a soft Nor'easter in our faces and hardly any humidity, for once. Then we went back to his house, had a couple Busch beers in cans and sat in his living room talking. That was a perfect afternoon, worth more to me than the 1,816 days I spent in California.

Though sometimes I think of the ocean.

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