Salinas, CA

In my conscious life, I lived in Salinas, California for approximately three years. My parents and I moved there after my father got a job at the Salinas newspaper. I was two years old when we first moved there, so I do not remember much of the area. I had a view from my stroller in the brown boxy apartment complex surrounded by rectangular grass patches and sidewalks. Other than this, everything is fuzzy in my waking memory.

However, I revisited Salinas, the quaint community located amidst central California's agricultural fields and tattered, broken down canneries. Somewhere during the drive there, I realized I was in a large hummer sports vehicle; I knew none of the passengers in the car. We were suddenly surrounded by a desert of white sparkling sand. Distant mountains swished past through the windows. About ten miles in front of our caravan stood a gleaming white mountain of this white sand that stretched up at least forty stories high. Scrolling up the mountain were huge escalators for cars, one going up, one going down. We started up the escalator. I saw rich palm trees on both sides of the road. After several minutes, we came to the peak of the sand hill which led to a flat highway road with multiple lanes. So many business parks and shops surrounded us, but I was quite impressed to see independently owned businesses, stores, and restaurants. There were no corporations for miles in this version of Salinas. We were approaching another sparkling sand hill which was not as high as the last. Up one more car escalator and we arrived at the driver's apartment.

In the apartment, I was still with the fellow unknown travelers. There was a couple in their thirties who were lasciviously flirting. They soon left, as did the rest of the group, leaving me alone in the light-flooded apartment. Making sure I was completely alone, I started ransacking the closets and drawers for sex toys. At any rate, I heard the door knob jiggling so I grabbed a Scrabble game to make it seem like I was doing something intellectual. The group had returned to tell me that we were going to meet my family at the local water park.

When we arrived, I was ditched by the travelers and I soon saw my brother with my 84-year-old grandmother. They were boarding a high-tech water ride. The aquatic ride operator was encasing my brother in a translucent violet-blue plastic module that resembled a miniature space craft. Floating within the module were small vermilion bubbles that I assumed were filled with oxygen since the water craft filled with water once placed on the ride track. Suddenly my brother, who looked like he was an oversized incubated premature baby, was shoved in the water which careened down a steep drop that curved into a huge wave pool. Once he made it to the calm wave pool, my brother emerged and was removed from the aqua craft by a less than thrilled teen-aged employee who was decked out in silver pleated balloon shorts with a matching sailor top and clear bubble helmet.

After sympathizing with the poor kid while silently exploding with laughter, I realized that some moron was stuffing my frail grandmother into one of the aquatic incubators. I tried to bolt up the hill that led to the ride entrance; I screamed, "NO", "SHE'S TOO OLD", and "GOD DAMMIT", but the crappy pop music blaring over the intercoms made it impossible for anyone to hear me. Helplessly, I watched my incubated grandma get dumped into the stream of water that led to the steep drop. I ran to the railing by the dumping pool, awaiting the waterlogged corpse of my grandma and as I looked into the murky depths of the wave pool, I saw the blue module surfacing. My grandmother lay horizontally with a hauntingly serene countenance. As the aquatic astronaut ride operator opened the module, I expected the worst. Stroke, aneurysm, dementia, gangrene. The water slid off of my grandma's face as she opened her eyes, put on her glasses, and slowly arose from the pool, perfectly alive and safe. We all left and I continued to be amazed at what had just taken place.

Part Two:

So, after the water park adventure took place, I found myself in a car with my mother. We were on our way out of Salinas, down the diamond white hills. From the mountain peak, I could see the entire city; it was sparkling, clean and fresh. An oasis of palm trees and a crystal pond surrounded by polished alabaster sand beckoned from below the highway. Instead of growing larger as we approached it, the oasis grew smaller and less majestic. My mother decided to pull off at the next exit. I asked her if we could see the ocean in Salinas. Giving no reply, she suggested we go to a restaurant. I looked to my right and saw the ocean through the bars of a wrought iron fence.

We entered a house that seemed to have been converted into a restaurant; there was a large kitchen in the back, some tables in the front, and all that was missing was the staff. After a few minutes of waiting, a crew of white men in their early twenties came in from the backdoor. Mostly, they were blond and clothed in surf or sports wear. Our presence went unnoticed as these guys talked about rushes and how "faded" they got the night before. I then realized we had unwittingly strolled into a frat house. One guy pulled a beer out of the fridge while one of the blondies charged the guys in the kitchen. He was stark naked and as he ran, he shook his limp penis around with his hand. That was when I whispered to my mom that we should get out of there. The front door was somehow blocked, so we had to walk past the frat boys to the backdoor. I grabbed a baseball cap from the couch and threw it on my mom's head. I then pulled my hoodie over my head while telling my mom to act manly. Luckily, we were both wearing pants and sneakers.

We made it through the backdoor to the road that led to our car. Strangely amusing to me, my mom started catcalling one of the frat boys who was drinking a beer on a balcony. She then tossed an empty beer can at the cheaply constructed wood balcony. I swiftly yanked my mother away, hiding my incredulity at her behavior, and we ran away toward the parked car. Bewildered as to what had happened, I drifted into a fog as quickly as we sped away from the frat boys.

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