Blink of an Eye

It’s hard to believe the Fourth of July is already upon us. If I knew where the first half of the year went I’d bottle the knowledge and become wealthy selling it.

Twenty years ago this month we moved to Tulare County. It’s gone by in the blink of an eye.

The Chief was raised here. I was raised in the Bay Area and, after a brief stint near Eureka to attend a junior college, enrolled at Berkeley. It’s where I met the Chief.

She introduced me to this area. Having visited with her, I had some idea of what living here would be like. Twenty years on most of those preconceptions are completely torpedoed. It has become evident to me you can live well anywhere provided internet and television reception.

Twenty years ago we only had the latter. We had five kids then, ranging in age from 12 to a newborn–so television was a big deal. Especially after having moved from the wilderness that that was then Cabo San Lucas. The internet–and everything else–was still before us.

Raising children–literally everything that entails–was mostly still before us. But now, in the blink of an eye, it’s achieved.

We lost a son in the blink of an eye.

We’ve lived in four houses during the past 20 years–lost two in the blink of an eye–and left the third in fairly short order to move to a house we’ve just bought. We’ve had no neighbors, endured odious ones, and now we don’t even need a deadbolt on our front door.

We’ve bought, sold, and continue to hold commercial property here. It’s how we put our kids through college.

Tempus fugit!

When we landed here 20 years ago I was only four years older than our oldest is now. This seems 40 times worse than somehow losing a measly half year.

I can feel mortality upon me whereas, 20 years ago, I had no inkling other than intellectually. Being in a state of decline that you know can’t reverse is a daunting prospect. As my Dad once said, “Ageing is not for the faint of heart.”

And the time, of course, is never lost–not if you’ve been productive; not if, especially, you’ve been involved in the nurturing of your loved ones. Not if you leave a legacy. The Chief and I will have released five children into the wild as part of our effort. But it’s not the having of children. Any idiot can do that–just look at me. It’s the raising of them.

We’ll also try to fly–and improve–this paper for the next few decades. It’s a labor of love for our part of the Valley–somewhere I never thought we’d wind up living, yet now a place I’ve come to love and call home.

Unless the winter fog returns. I hate that as most folks here hate liberals–although, now that I consider it, having raised all of our kids, we can always escape the damp gloom and decamp, temporarily, to some sunnier clime.

These days, we can even do layout remotely.

Still, I feel a terrible pity for people who go through their whole lives and leave nothing meaningful behind them. Can they be said to have existed? I mean, if you only live for yourself have you really lived at all?

You’ll be able to Google me–and read my columns–long after I’m gone. I don’t know if that’s reassuring or silly, just that it’s true. It’s the same with this paper our staff has put out for six years now.

Six years that have passed in the blink of an eye.

Joseph Oldenbourg

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