Look ma, no hands

If you went out Vineyard all the way, it does a long curve around the gravel mine. Huge hills of different kinds of rock. Fascinating thing. Never a human in sight. Never much seen going on there. Yet the piles would slowly morph smaller or bigger.

If you go the other direction, towards Victoria Avenue and Ventura–would pass the landfill. It was a big landfill, with seagulls rising up in swarms from the garbage. Looking on the map, it’s no longer there, and housing tracts are now on top of all that garbage. Goes to show you how short people’s memories are.

I imagine there is no smell from the refuse treatment plant anymore. It’s near the beach, and part of the experience of riding your bike to the beach, was letting go of the handle bars long enough to pinch your nose shut for the 5 minutes it took to pass the poop factory. The roads were usually good, and I never worried about getting hit by cars when on foot or on a bicycle in Ventura County. Maybe because Oxnard wasn’t a big city. Or maybe because people weren’t quite as crazy as they are in Utah.

Once, I ran over a grating with my bike, and it was loose and flipped inward, throwing my bike and me onto the pavement. Scraped knees, scraped elbows. I don’t quite remember where the grating was. In an alley somewhere. The rim on the bike was bent, so I walked home. “What did you do to yourself?” grandma asked, wiping her hands on her apron, then putting them on her hips to study me.

“Stupid bike.” I said.

“Go clean up.” she quipped. So I shuffled off to the bathroom, grabbed a bar of soap and scrubbed the gravel out of my skin. It stung a bit.

July, 1975

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