34

Jul. 20th, 2010 12:18 pm
ariadnelives: (tim and me)
[personal profile] ariadnelives
And so, I am 34 years old. I still feel like I was more adult at 28 than I am now, but mostly because when I was 28, jogging early in the morning made sense. My brother gets up at some ungodly early hour, like 4am, and he waters my mom's mesquite trees and drinks coffee and spends time watching the sun come up before he goes to work in the heat. I remember when I used to do that. I remember that I liked it, and I think it's probably a wonderfully different experience in the desert. Maybe it would be the same if I gave it more of a chance in Oregon. Here in my hometown, those early hours hang onto something wild. Coyotes are still out, still threatening from the washes, which in a few weeks will start to run with torrents running off from the flashfloods of the monsoon season. If you're going to see a wild burro, it'll be in the early morning when it's still cool (and by "cool" I mean about 95-100 degrees instead of 120).

If you talk to anyone who has lived here for less than ten years, they'll tell you that this town is dying. It's easy to believe that. Driving around, you'll see a whole lot of signs offering rental specials and short sales and empty buildings. Businesses that were here in my childhood have folded, but the new Big Lots does pretty well in the old JC Penny's building. Houses are back down to something more reasonable, and rent is pretty cheap again, so if you've got a job or a stable income, living here is easier than it was five years ago. The last house I lived in here was a three bedroom with a big yard that rented for $850 a month. The same house rents for $600 now. Some two bedroom apartments are advertised for $400. I haven't paid that little since I was a freshman in college. Families that have lived here as long as mine say that this is just like when the chainsaw plant went under in the early 1980s and it'll come back when the economy turns around. Besides, the lake needs a little time to recover from all those boats for all those years.

Last time the population took a dive like this and the town almost went under coincided with my parent's divorce and our eviction from the duplex my parents lived in when they moved here. Bad for everyone else, but not bad for us, because despite terrible credit and a part time minimum wage job, my mom could still swing a small apartment for us to live in. I remember when the population hit the 10,000 mark, we were excited because it meant that 1. we'd get a Burger King and 2. a stop light. Now, somewhere around 50,000 people live here, or lived here anyway, but I read something about only having jobs for a population of about 35,000. Thing is, there's no urb for the suburban feel of this place. So people have to move. Commuting means driving to Las Vegas two hours away.

This is the first time that I've come home that I haven't recognized at least one person wherever we've gone, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. The last graduating class is now legal to drink, but they're also legal to move, and the ones left here are in that wasteland of their early 20s, still living with their parents and likely drinking too much, and I remember that time too. I much prefer 34 years old to 22, but instead of the nudging I got back then to get off my ass and apply for any job whatsoever, my brother now reminds me that migraines indicate strokes, and we have a history of neurological disorders in my family and I need to lose some weight or I'm going to have diabetes and a stroke and then die early. My mom tells me that she no longer cares whom I'm in a relationshp with, she'd just like to see me get pregnant, please. It's weird and unsettling, and it shows me that I'm on the cusp of being middle aged.

Now, I'm going to get in the shower and wait for my retired mom to pick me up to take me shopping for my birthday present-- bras from the fat girl store.
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