I-80 into memories


At Jack the kitty’s house, the sun goes down nearly directly above the point at which I-80 moves towards my home state of California, landing itself near Truckee, in the high mountains, before beginning descent into foothills and finally, the Central Valley. If we jetted south before entering CA, we could wind ourselves into Lake Tahoe’s “Crystal Bay”, the northern part of the lake on the Nevada side where you could hop into a gas station for a fill up and leave with both a gambling problem and a drinking problem.

On October 1, 1989, I turned 21 and my mom, took me, some family friends, and my boyfriend at the time, Steve, to Cal Neva Lodge on Stateline Rd in Crystal Bay to celebrate. In retrospect that night should have been weird–my mom had separated from my dad (was already dating someone new); loyalty was demanded; my 13 yo sister had been traumatized, ran off to dads and totally cut all ties with mom—but it was one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had. Maybe it was because mom was so happy–she was free of a what must have been a truly weird marriage for her, she loved to gamble, and Cal Neva Lodge itself had been owned by Frank Sinatra, who my mom revered for his similarity to her dad/my grandpa, Deck Hogin–but I drank, and laughed, and we went across the street to eat at a place Charlie Chaplin either owned or ate at (can’t remember but someone made a big deal about it), and it didn’t hurt that I was in love. Of course, 16 days later, on October 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake would hit, and would emotionally-dead end for me too many things.

Cal Neva Lodge recently went bankrupt but was purchased by a billionaire who I’m hoping won’t ruin it, for I’ve mentioned to Julia (DD1) that when she turns 21, I’d like to have the same kind of party for her. We’ll drive into this sunset and arrive at Stateline, in the middle of the night, cold maybe, and walk in to the lodge through history, making new memories from the warm ones of my past.

[I wrote the above in 2016–I think.Julia turned 21 on 5/17/19, and we didn’t end up at Cal Neva, opting instead for Vegas which was a good match for the where I eventually landed in my life. 

For I don’t think I can express how life-affirming it was to witness two hammered over-21’s at The Flamingo Go-Pool taking their extended foreplay all the damned way within full sight of all of us gawkers who couldn’t believe what we were seeing, and a lifeguard who worked very VERY hard not to see it.Because as luck would have it, my oldest daughter—born 7 weeks prematurely in 1998, like she new this shit would come to pass–entered the world on the same day as the day Las Vegas hosts its annual Electric Daisy Carnival. 

Which makes this jaunt down memory lane towards Cal Neva seem like a precious memorial to quaintness and, evolutionarily-speaking, an adequate ramp up for me.

Because the intervening years between 1989 and 2019 made me understand that I’m not the type of person to clutch pearls–one persons “debauchery” is another’s elevation into the joy of themselves—and that it’s 100% acceptable not to do so and even perhaps the best choice in such a stifling and joyless society.

And anyways my life has instilled the knowing that I don’t need to strong arm my current experience to fit the mold of the past.For I AM the mold of that past, who carried with me to Vegas–with Julia, Livy, Ellen and Colton–all that had gone before as all that it had made me]

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