Saturday, October 15, 2011

Titty Mountain Redeux

That pretty blogger at the top of my side bar is Jan from Jan's Sushi Bar. Her blog is in the running for an award, so click on her picture and please go vote for her. Then run to her blog and check it out. She is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.


We always come back to this place. This is where I spent a wonderful day last week with my mom, my younger sister, and her husband. That cut off mountain in the back is "Titty Mountain."

The fact that the day went wonderfully is pretty fucking huge.

This is the beach that used to belong to the Surf and Sand Mobile Home Park. The beach where I sowed the seeds of my soul as I watched my family implode around me.

In lieu of writing anew, for now I am reposting something from my memoir writing. For many of you, it will be familiar. When I went back and read it, I was amazed how many of you have hung in with me through the unbloggable years. Thank-you for that.

And now I give you a story from Titty Mountain, circa 1969....

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!”

“MOM! Look UP! Look up at Titty Mountain! It’s ME!”

From the top of the hill in the State Park, on the outer edge of the man made drop off of a cliff, I jumped up and down and waved my arms in the air. I did an Indian pow wow dance and a whirling dervish. Nothing was catching my mom’s attention. I stood for a moment contemplating her putzing around in our yard, completely oblivious that her eleven year old middle daughter was looking down on her from high above.

I stopped trying to gain my mom’s attention and just observed her for awhile. She looked so innocent and vulnerable and small from my vantage point. I felt an ache of tenderness for her.

Pure love with a bittersweet edge.

Was it the altitude? The seeming godliness of my perch above the mobile home park and the Pacific Coast Highway on this clear fall day?

Fall was my favorite season to live on the beach; the elements seemed to jump out at you. Riding home from school I would sit on the right hand side of the bus where if I was to leap from the window I might have cleared the rocks and landed with a splash into the ocean. Sitting on the bus and watching the sunlight dance on the ocean’s surface like a swarm of dazzling sea fairies hypnotized me and encouraged my habit of daydreaming. One day a young classmate had sat down beside me, and with a mirror attached to the top of his shoe, gazed up at my panties for a bit of time. Until my friend Sarah saw him and punched his arm. I might never have noticed myself.

On this day, I’d had the heebie jeebies and needed to get out and about. I’d stopped over at Sarah’s, but she only wanted to lounge around her bedroom, listening to 45’s and eating snacks. She wanted to leaf through teen magazines and talk about boys. She was nearly two years older than I and was a little more boy crazy than your average 12 and a half year old.

I’d made up an excuse and ducked out of there. I hadn’t felt like returning home and lying around my own place any more than Sarah’s. At least Sarah’s mom left the girls’ bedroom alone and gave us some privacy. My mom could not stand to see people relaxing. It made her more nervous and anxious than her normal busy bee buzz.

Our beach was such a small little cove that at times it felt confining. My urge to be one with nature that day went beyond standing at the end of the pier and staring into the horizon, and even went beyond climbing along the rocks on the north side of the beach and watching the waves smash against the biggest boulders. Sneaking as close to the raging surf as one can.

No, what I needed that day was some real physical exertion and a sense of freedom.

So off I’d gone on my own to Titty Mountain.

Titty Mountain got its name from its appearance. The hills along the west side of Sycamore Canyon formed a ridge and there was a trail along the top. On one side you could look down at the Pacific Coast Highway, out and across the ocean. An eagle’s view. The other side of the hills sloped down into Sycamore Canyon itself. The beginning of which was the campground, but the canyon narrowed and went on and on and made its way all the way through the hills up and into the back of Newbury Park. A place I would be living four years from then, but I had no idea at the time.

The reason the edge of this range of hills looked like a big tit was purely man made. A section at the end had to be sliced off for the Pacific Coast Highway to pass around. The flat, brown cliff that occurred from this destruction of nature had the shape of a humongous boob. Something that looked like it could come to life and face off Godzilla in a Japanese film. At the pinnacle was a giant sagebrush. It looked exactly like a nipple sitting there on top. My friends and I had not named it Titty Mountain. It was already christened by those who had come before us.

The location of our mobile home at the outer edge of the park and right next to PCH was directly below Titty Mountain.

So, from my summit I could see directly into our back yard and whatever my mom was doing. She was oblivious to my shouting and I eventually tired of observing her. I let my eyes wander up and over the amazing horizon that I had all to myself.

Even at eleven I had a strong sense of and appreciation for infinite space.

Standing on the edge of a cliff and looking out over the vastness of the ocean on an ethereal Fall afternoon was a better high than what the older teens were doing down in some hidden hideaway. A part of me almost felt like I could lift my arms and soar like a hawk. The fact that during my childhood I had recurring dreams where I could fly, and had witnessed panoramic landscapes similar to my ledge on Titty Mountain’s summit only increased the surreal feel of the moment.

I could also see south down the PCH. Brown, sage brushy hills rolled slowly into the hypnotic ocean of shifting blues and greens, with the winding black ribbon of highway separating the two giants and rippling towards the haze of Los Angeles.

I could almost feel the sensation from my dreams, the lift of flight. I raised my arms to my sides and closed my eyes to better feel the breeze on my face.

I’m not sure how long I was poised there on the edge of the cliff. But when I opened my eyes, and peered down again into our back yard, my mom had definitely noticed me. She was doing her own version of the pow wow rain dance whirling dervish. Her version involved finger wagging and hand signals. Gigantic mouthing of words, which, curiously, I could figure out.

“Get. The. Fuck. Off that ledge. Back off. What the fuck are you thinking? Do you want to give me a fucking heart attack?”

Maybe some other curse words thrown in. My mom really knew how to string them together when she was on a role. One of her talents I was proud to inherit.

For a moment I stood there, feigning innocence, leaned over the ledge a smite more to get a better look at her and pretended to listen more carefully with pantomimed hand behind my ear.

When I knew she had reached that crucial point where her eyes actually bulged out of her head like a cartoon, I backed off. I felt slightly guilty, especially remembering the tenderness I’d felt only moments ago for my mom.

But I did not go home right away. I followed the ridge along the top, walking parallel to PCH heading north. I passed by the first trail that zigzagged down into the campground and opted instead to keep going and head to another crest or peak where I could feel my spirits lift with the sky.

As mad as my mom was, I knew if I waited a couple of hours, by the time I got home she’d be well past her first few drinks for the night. She’d have taken a valium or three and she’d either be happy slosh or scary slosh, but sloshed all the same. My dad would be running late from work, again. There could be a huge fight when he finally arrived home and my mom might escalate to crazyville and suicide threats.

Two nights before she had walked around with a loaded gun detailing how the next time we saw her we would be “picking her brains off the rails of the pier.”

My father had ignored her and continued to watch TV so my sisters and I did likewise.

With the slightest of sighs and then a deep breath, I settled down Indian style on another cliff to watch the sunset.

13 comments:

Brian Miller said...

whew what a story a tender moment looking down on her and seeing her in peace juxtaposed by the previous nights chaos...glad you had a good time...

hillgrandmom said...

Your writing is always so evocative of moods and feelings.

TechnoBabe said...

Sounds like my house as a kid but in my case my father was the alcoholic and my mother was just crazy. She was so full of hate and spewed it at those closest to her. Us. I know how healthy it is to write about your childhood and I also know how hard reliving it all can be. Hugs to you for getting the hurts and anger out of you through your writing. I am so glad for you that your time with your mother this week has been another step in healing. I personally have not been with my mother in person for at least ten years but I do write her letters. That is the best I can do.

formerlyonlyamovie said...

I remember this from the last time. I don't remember if I commented about my mom not tolerating anyone relaxing. She still can't. It's a horrible way to grow up.

xoxo
So glad your visit went well.

lisleman said...

I enjoyed reading this. Family relationships always have complex twists to them. thanks

Kristan said...

I'm so glad you were able to have a wonderful day with your family. :)

Jeff said...

This is beautiful writing about a tragic memory. I'm glad you got back and had a nice day in your old haunts

starrlife said...

Loved it the first time- have we known each other that long? Geesh! Love it again! Hugs and better memories to emerge.

Jan said...

Oh, bless your heart, woman - thank you so much for plugging the contest!

I remember this from the first time you posted, and it's every bit as powerful the second time around.

Mrsbear said...

I remember reading this last time it was posted. It's such a good piece, so evocative. The descriptions, the conflicting emotions. You do such a good job putting us there with you.

Glad your recent trip to Titty Mountain created some softer, kinder memories.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I'm glad your most recent visit was a good day. I know how those bad ones can go.

Casey said...

I do remember reading this before, Pseudo. You always paint such a real picture, I feel like I was watching you watch your mom mouth some angry swears to you up on the ledge. I'm glad your trip home went well!

pegbur7 said...

This was heart wrenching. Reminded me a lot of my own growing up years. But we weren't near an ocean so the woods and quarries became my solace. My mother was the same overly emotional suicide threatening type except she didn't drink or take pills. She was just that way naturally. My dad was the drinker and carouser. Thankfully they both changed dramatically over the years (after I'd left home). Wonderfully written.