Adventure Maiden’s House
After we moved from San Pablo, when I was too young to remember (maybe I was two or three) we lived in a house built onto the hillside above El Cerrito, California, just south of The Arlington. The lower level was a garage. Stairs led to the front door – stairs I remember tumbling down, but only once.
A scarcely used patio topped the garage. I was not allowed to play there yet I remember sneaking onto it to look things over and experience the view. I always yearned for adventure, for something new and different to experience. I’ve learned I’m an explorer, willing to take risks to learn about new things. In this case I risked my mother’s wrath (and a spanking) to be able to walk onto that garage roof – to the railing at the edge – and look over it.
The railing was beige painted wood. The patio was covered with tiny gravelly rocks. I do not remember if my mother saw me there or spanked me. That part was not important – it wasn’t me – it fades with all negativity into obscurity. What remains is the adventurous child — the little girl who still lives inside of me.
So I have this insight into who I really am. I am adventurous. I take risks. I am unafraid. I don’t worry about consequences. Wherever did I decide that I am cautious? In my young adult years I read it in an astrology book. It said, “Cancerians are cautious” and I thought, “Oh really? I am not, but maybe I should be – it sounds like a good thing to be.” So I developed a cautiousness to me that was not originally there. What was a playful spirit became cloaked in a repression, self-inflicted, my mother’s attempts to quell my explorer spirit, notwithstanding. Adventure maiden found other places to explore, but first let’s talk about the color of the house.
I remember the paint job. When my parents bought the house it was dark green and brown — very woodsy colors. I never thought much about it until they decided to paint the house two shades of beige. I was horrified to see this plain ugly beige covering the forest cabin appeal of the house, even as a very young child.
“Why are you covering it with that color?” I asked.
“We think it looks better,” they said.
Yikes! That alone goes to show how very different we are. I yearned for the dark greens and browns of the forest and they covered them with the bleakness of three weeks surrounded by Saharan desert sands. So dry and arid.
I have finally escaped the city to live in a mountainous area surrounded by trees of a million shades of green, trunks of red, brown, and tan, and water trickling everywhere up and down my hazy imagination. An environment for me.
2240 Mira Vista Drive, El Cerrito. This is the house I lived in as a child from approximately age two to age eight. The patio above the garage turned into a room addition sometime after we lived there. The front yard used to be totally covered with ivy. Looks like it has been converted to a lawn now. The sidewalk flower beds used to have allysum in them; now they seem to be concreted in. See the picture window above the staircase? We had a great view of the San Francisco Bay!
See the two houses to the right? They were built not long after I moved in, in the mid-1950s. They’re the same colors they were when they were first built! Brown and green! How strange is that? They were occupied by the Morse family and the Cake family. [Update 2016 – The Cake’s house is no longer green. All things must change.]
Welcome to the neighborhood! Note the wild gully across the street – now a city park. Just south of that you can see the play field of the elementary school I attended. It was called El Monte School then. Now it has been sold and is the private Prospect Sierra School.