Place Where You Live:

Irvine, California

Irvine, California

Seven years old, on the flat slab of a rock shaped like a turtle, I look out at my neighborhood spread out beneath me. The world feels awfully large. I can see my house from where I am.

Twelve years old, Irvine Spectrum Center. Best mall around. In front of the movie theater my friends and I wait for our movie to start, but we are waiting for one other thing — the boys. We are begging them to appear from the throng.

Sixteen years old, the Great Park. Up high in the air on the orange hot air balloon. It is a bright and sunny day. The people of Irvine are ants, and I am very big. I am afraid to look down.

Eighteen years old, Suicide Hill. I am not quite sure why it is called that. I don’t know anybody who has jumped off of it. My friends and I are drinking, waiting for the sun to appear. When the sun rises from the distant sea, we won’t be in high school anymore.

Present day. I drive past the Spectrum on the 405. On this foggy night, the Ferris wheel is a beacon. I keep driving, past the Culver/University exit that leads to my old house. Everything I once knew has been torn down, replaced with model houses. If the Irvine Company could demolish the turtle rock, they would. In Irvine all of the houses look the same — beige, suburban dwellings with matching kitchens. But not my childhood home. That house had a bright red door and a eucalyptus tree in the front yard.