Alone Again, Naturally

Boy in fieldPhoto by Rachael Crowe

My Real Memoir

For a while, as a kid, it seemed I was destined to be a loner. True, I had a goofy sense of humor and a wild imagination, but I mostly used them to amuse myself. Anyone who’d met me at age six would have pegged me for a classic introvert. But something happened at age seven that turned me into a functional (or is that dysfunctional?) extrovert.

That “something” was named Jeff.

I’d attended my first few weeks of 2nd grade in Downey, the only home I’d ever known. But then we moved from our tiny starter-home to a three-bedroom tract home in shiny new La Mirada.

La Mirada was so new that, like the proverbial airplane being built as it flies, the neighborhood was still going up around us. The next block was nothing but wood frames on freshly-poured slabs (“basements?” Not in SoCal). My parents called it an “eyesore.” But all I saw was giant Tinker Toys beckoning to be climbed on when the construction bosses weren’t looking! I played alone, but I had fun.

Sort of.

But the real adventure was just out my bedroom window. “The Field” across the street was a cluster of gently rolling hills, once covered with commercially-grown flowers, now thigh-high (chest-high for a kid) in weeds, and dotted with scrub oaks and precariously leaning shacks. The latter had once been occupied by braceros, seasonal Mexican farmworkers who’d lived in them during the flower-picking season. One family was still there when I first explored the Field. I played pantomime games with their kids (we didn’t speak the same language). But they were gone by Christmas.

There was a big cheery sign labelling this as the future home of “La Mirada Creek Park,” with work due to begin in “in six months!” When we moved away ten years later, half a dozen matching signs had come and gone, each becoming sun-bleached and riddled with BB gun holes, only to be replaced by the next. (The park, now quite beautiful, was finally built a year after we left.)

Every few years or so the Field would catch fire, and the streets surrounding it would be filled with singed rabbits, pheasants and coyotes, and panicking snakes slithering down the curbs. The grown-ups complained about the danger and delays. But the kids rejoiced. My first week in La Mirada was a series of solo adventures in the Field. But then I had to go back to school and…

La Pluma Elementary was full of strangers.

Until my second week, that is, when Jeff a.k.a. “Sunshine” Ward, the world’s biggest extrovert and class-clown extraordinaire, said,

“Let’s be friends!”

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Alone Again, Naturally

  1. Pingback: I Turned Out Like You After All, Dad | Mitch Teemley

  2. revruss1220 says:

    What a great memory! It rings a familiar bell when you talk about all the frames of houses being built nearby. Our subdivision included basements, so my friends and I had big dirt hills to play on and have “dirt clod” fights after the workers had gone home for the day. Good, good times.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Robyn Lowrie says:

    Just four little words changed your life. Words are powerful and can be a great blessing to others. Intentionality is powerful as well. Nice story, Mitch!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Kathleen Ellerman says:

    Love your storytelling style. So enjoyable.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. So, was Jeffrey your clown mentor?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I can only imagine the trouble you two must have caused! Is this a two-parter?

    Liked by 3 people

  7. writersiyandamzolo says:

    “I played alone, but I had fun. Sort of.” I have been having that feeling of “enjoying” my own company again and again, until now. I’m not sure if it’s meant to vanish or what.

    But what I’m trying to say basically is, nice post…keep them coming 😍💯👌.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I got immersed in this story and was disappointed when it came to an abrupt end. I want to hear more! You are a great story teller.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Ann Coleman says:

    I can’t wait to hear more!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Such powerful messages in everyday stories We just watched Healing River! Wow! I’m not even Cathic and I spilled through tears! Great movie!

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Delighted to hear that, Jane (I’m not Catholic either, btw–the message is for everyone). May I encourage you to share it with others, and to leave a brief review at Amazon? (The more reviews it gets, the more they recommend it). Also, you can rate it from 1 to 10 stars on IMDb (link below). Note: IMDb only recognizes the rating if you rate a few other movies, as well. Thanks and blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Jane Rozek says:

    I will do that? Superb acting!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Rhonda says:

    Mitch, I gotta say that when I saw the title of this post, the song (you know, the saddest song ever recorded) instantly popped into my head. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this sweet post. I trust we’ll be reading more about Jeffrey?

    Liked by 3 people

  13. markbierman says:

    Sometimes we just need a great friend to draw us out of our shells.

    Liked by 1 person

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