Let me count the ways…
I liked La Mesa when I was a girl growing up here. I was happy-go-lucky. I ran around barefoot, stubbing my toes. I ate candy necklaces at Little League games and sold tomatoes from our garden six for a dollar. And don’t tell anyone but I took baton twirling lessons at the rec center. At some point though, probably after acquiring the right to man the helm of my parents’ old Plymouth Satellite all by myself, I began to think where I lived was boring. I couldn’t really imagine what else was out there but whatever it was, it was no doubt more exciting than what they were serving around here. I shipped off to college not really planning on avoiding La Mesa for the rest of my life but definitely open to the idea of hanging out elsewhere. Little did I know it would take me 25 years to make it back. I’ve been lucky enough to live in and visit some nice places since the day my parents drove me off in the Volkswagen Dasher (remember those?). But none of them had this…
OK, they had eggs, but not hummingbird eggs, in nests
like this… Recently my neighbors across the street found a hummingbird nest — perched precariously in a trellis at eye level three feet from their outdoor sitting area. When they found it I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. So small, so trustingly built right next to all the commotion. I was excited about it. I noticed in a strangely observe-myself kind of way that I appreciated it much more than I would have when I was younger (and, yes, I was a tiny bit jealous — I too wanted to be the recipient of Nature’s special favors!). How often can you get so close to a bird that most people only see pictures of, and that moves so fast you can barely see it in person anyway? And on top of it you get to inspect the nest inside and out? And touch the jellybean-sized eggs? (NO of course we did not TOUCH the eggs. But we COULD have…) Then a few weeks later as I was trying to rally the troops to school on a Monday morning, I glanced out the window at the Christmas lights I’ve been too busy to take down on the balcony and saw a weird brown clump on one of the (eye-level) hanging stars. Hornets’ nest dammit! I thought. (Morning coffee anyone?) But quickly I realized there was a tiny beak and tail pointing east and west over the brim of the clump. My heart welled up in my throat. “WE HAVE A HUMMINGBIRD NEST!” I bellowed out to all sleeping souls of the house. (Note for parents: this was an extremely effective variation on the regular “it’s time to wake up and get ready for school” method.) The kids were excited and curious, but not as much as I was. Not only was it incredibly lucky to have this ridiculously placed nest at arm’s length, but I took it as a sign. I never used to be much for signs but for some reason in the past few years I’ve become a sign person. (It’s the first step on my hopefully long journey to becoming a nutty old gal but I’ll save that to elaborate on in another post.)
It was a sign of new beginnings, of the right time to start something that’s been percolating for a long time, like writing a blog about how almost every day I see something, meet someone, or do something that makes me say to myself, “I’m so lucky to live where I do.” And there are PILES of things that make me say that, and that inspire me to find out more about this place I used to know so well I could ignore it, to dig my heels in deeper, and make it mine a little more. Like the mountains that surround La Mesa that I never noticed as a kid, never hiked, and never cared to learn the names of. Like the feeling of beatitude that swept over me while sitting with friends in the grassy outfield at Lemon Avenue during Little League playoffs, listening to the mumbo-jumbo of cheering fans and chirping birds, feeling the air like a temperate whisper on my sleeveless arms and watching the evening light melt across the western face of Mt Helix. (At that point I am thinking the same thing I thought one day walking down the Champs-Elysees: “How lucky am I? How many people on Earth are here at this very spot right now? An infinitesimally small percentage, and I am one of them.”) Like the view from my desk — yellow house finches clinging upside down to blue bachelor buttons in my front yard. Like being less than 15 minutes from a parking space at Coronado beach in one direction and the Lakeside rodeo in the other. Like wondering who designed that funky water tower with the clouds on it. Yes, so many things to love and to find out about. It was time to start a blog.
And then, nothing. No blog. Just life getting in the way, and a blog hanging around in the back of my mind like a kid who’s gonna ask his mom for a fifth donut. I begin to accept my title of Queen of Good Ideas That Remain At The Level of a List on My Computer. After all, that computer will still be there tomorrow, and those ideas aren’t molding in my head. They’ll keep.
Then I find out. Holly is moving. Holly is the school mom I cross paths with several times a week and then always think “I wish I knew her better”. And now she’s leaving. And plus she lives in that great house with the huge tree I always thought I’d do a blog post about when I started my blog. The tree that if you built a staircase to the top of it you could probably see China. And then I get an email, a sad one from one of my dearest friends. Her mother has a brain tumor, and everything is day by day. And then I think back to that nest.
Every day there’s a reason that stops me from picking a point in time to get this bird off the ground. (I know, there’s a lot of bird in this post.) But for some reason, for many reasons, today is the day. So here it goes. The idea takes off. As with any other endeavor, we must hope for the best, try hard, and leave some space for unexpected outcome. The only thing I can say is that here is the place I will try to enumerate all the ways I love La Mesa. The places, the people, and the life I have in it.