31 May 2013

28 May 2013

On being a member of the jerk club.

A month or two after I moved back to Vacaville, I was out front clearing some branches from the forest that is Mom’s front yard. She likes to prune the heck out of every tree on her property, then leaves all the branches for me to saw up and shove, awkwardly, into her yard waste bins. She has the nerve to think I have the easy part of the job. But I digress… wait, no I don’t; this is the introduction.

One of the neighbors, out on a power walk, decided to pause for a moment, ignore my rather obvious red earphones, and strike up a conversation with me. Not that I mind. Okay, sometimes I do, and will wear my headphones even though the iPod isn’t on, just so people won’t interrupt my train of thought. But that’s rare. I’m not that introverted.

Once he found out how old I was, he realized I was the same age as his son. “So you must’ve gone to Vanden,” he said. “Do you know Evan?” Which is not his son’s name, but I don’t care to give his name. It took me a few seconds to recall him. “Yes,” I told him, “I know of him. We weren’t in the same circles.”

There’s a story behind that, of course. Isn’t there always? This is a blog, after all.

26 May 2013

I don’t live in a small town.

Vacaville is not a small town. It used to be, when my family moved here in 1982. It hasn’t been for years. The last census, in 2010, put the city’s population at 92,248. That makes Vacaville the 315th largest city in the country; bigger than Chico, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Napa, or Palo Alto. Or, if you wanna compare other states, Boca Raton, Florida; Sioux City, Iowa; Portland, Maine; Trenton and Camden, New Jersey; Santa Fe, New Mexico; or Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Yet people think it’s small ’cause they’re comparing it with other cities: Sacramento (#35, pop. 466,488) to the east, San Francisco (#14, pop. 805,235) and Oakland (#46, pop. 390,724) to the west, San Jose (#10, pop. 945,942) to the south, and Vallejo (#225, pop. 115,942) and Fairfield (#257, pop. 105,321) in the same county. There are also the various things Vacaville doesn’t have, like a new-books bookstore (other than the Christian bookstore, which doesn’t count), an IMAX theater, an indoor shopping mall, a Noah’s Bagels or Trader Joe’s, a daily newspaper (it dropped Mondays), or a decent public transportation system. And the city’s civic leaders have done their darndest to manufacture a small-town feel, what with the Town Square and Creekwalk and various community events and traditions. So it fools the locals into thinking Vacaville is still small.

24 May 2013