I moved to Cambria in the last millennium (Aug. 8, 1981, to be exact). Moving from the “greater Los Angeles area,” I was grabbing a chance to live the dream. Recently separated from my first husband and with nothing more than two cats, a ’63 VW bus full of what would fit in there (including a rocking chair), I took the work opportunity offered me in the hinterlands of this quaint coastal village with my eyes wide open.
When the private educational situation I’d been hired for evaporated for everyone involved five months after arriving, I found work in a position I was not unfamiliar with — washing dishes at the Harmony Valley Inn restaurant. You see, having been “on-the-road” as I’d been once, this had always proven to be a meal-maker for me. And so it was again.
It also was an easy way to fall into the “way” here, as there was a lot of life in Harmony in those days with many shops, the post office, music on the deck, the restaurant and all. I’d also found Camozzi’s with my original co-workers and begun to relish the extreme diversity of its patrons, indeed, of the town, via afternoons playing pinball and shooting darts there.
As a child, my dad would take us to the fireworks shows at the local park. When my parents split up, I don’t really remember going anymore as my mother never did care for crowds. We might have watched from afar. So, upon immersing myself into rural life, I curiously approached the Fourth of July festivities at Shamel Park.
There was a building boom at that time, so the carpenters had their own “rodeo,” the waiter and waitress race (I believe) had begun and there were the children’s games one would expect to see on “Leave It To Beaver.” My heart swelled with love for this small town and its easy way of life.
I have since worked many jobs, suffered a few heartbreaks, experienced the infiltration of “outsiders-inflicting-their-city-ways” on “us” and raised two fine young sons here. The town has doubled in size and the forest has died off by perhaps half. And I still don’t own anything.
More importantly, I’m happy.
However, as I wandered around the park this past Independence Day with my older son, waiting for his father (in the last band of the day) to play, it occurred to me that I’d been here long enough to be greeted by young men whom I had to seriously think, “Is this Miles’ classmate or Zachary’s? I know there’s six years difference but they all look so old now!”
Certain elements of the crowd have changed, but there are still plenty of “old timers” there, lots of children — make that TONS of children — running around, barbecues and coolers of Jungle Juice, games and music to dance to. And I know that many of those 30-inch tall people spinning on that dance floor this day may be spinning on that same dance floor with kids of their own down the road.
And so it is. And it makes me smile.