In My Dreams I Live in Prunedale

In my dreams I live in Prunedale.

My mother and her third husband bought the place just outside the edge of town when I was about 15, so that would have been 1983. It was, if my memory serves, the 10th place I had lived in my life at the time. If that number is true then it was the 8th different place I had lived in 4 years. That seems odd.

I grew up on Atherton Way in Salinas. After my parents divorced, my mother and her second husband and I moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We lived there for a few months one summer with my mother’s second husband’s parents with the intention of making it our home. But he couldn’t find a job and the old folks were bat-shit crazy so we packed everything up and moved to Denver, Colorado. I guess I must have been about 12.

We lasted in Colorado for a few weeks, even rented our own home. But my mother’s second husband was a violent man and, after a week or so in a Denver suburb, her and I packed up the station wagon in the middle of the night and drove back to California. She reconciled with him and moved to San Jose, but I stayed to live with my oldest sister. Not long after, while I was visiting in San Jose, he tried to kill her and I helped her escape. After that, we both lived at my sister’s house for a bit.

My mother went back to work and rented a small place on Natividad Road between a church and a Winchell’s. Me and her and my closest chronological sister all lived there. It was a crazy place, and we had a major break-in through the front window facing a busy street once. One night an old drunk threatened to break down the front door and beat the crap out of me if I didn’t open it. He had the wrong house.

It was at Natividad where my mom got social and started going out a lot, and eventually met Rusty, her third husband, and the only one I call step-dad. He was a good dude, if somewhat peculiar and full of questionable stories. Honestly, I liked him a lot. Soon after, we all moved to Mae Avenue.

Mae Avenue is in East Salinas, so all my friends were scared for me. When I transferred from North Salinas High to Alisal High they were even more worried. Alisal was the predominately Mexican high school in town and they all thought I’d get killed by a gang or something. I wasn’t worried because I had always gotten along well with Mexicans and people in gangs so I figured I’d be alright. I was. It wasn’t as bad as they’d heard. I made a ton of lifetime friends and almost never got beat up.

Rusty, the step-dad, was a junk collector. He and his worthless son would both make impossible messes in yards and garages that would piss off landlords. That’s why we didn’t last at Mae Avenue or over in Laurel Heights or on Aragon Circle. We kept getting the boot. I remember my mother crying about that. So that’s why her and Rusty bought the house in Prunedale. From then on, much to my mother’s chagrin, Rusty and his son could let the garbage pile up unhindered.

The Prunedale house was built in 1961 and was rather run down, but it had a lot of sleeping area and it came cheap. If you included the mobile home at the back of the property, which was there illegally, you could comfortably sleep a good dozen adults at the Prunedale house. And we did. There were a lot of us living out there when I was in my teens.

I lived there until I was 18, then I vanished off the face of the earth for 11 months. I went to El Centro to bunk with a friend for a while, then we moved into San Diego to begin life in earnest. But I was an indolent little shit and I got hooked on crank a bit so he kicked me out. In San Diego, over the next 7 months, I lived in 5 different places: with my boss for a time, in a weekly motel for a bit, at my own apartment (which I lost), on my new friend’s grandmother’s couch for a while, and then in a hotel room for several weeks paying day to day. But I lost my job and I lost my friend and I ran out of money so I called my mom for a bus ticket home.

I lived in Prunedale again, renting from my mom, for the next several years. A lot of us did that. Mom would always take us back. My future wife came to live in that Prunedale room with me. I became Rusty’s go-to guy in his lawn service business and even got my driver’s license back, eventually. At 26 I bought the lawn business from Rusty. At 29 I bought their house. We lived in that Prunedale house, my wife and I, for the next 6 years after. People driving by that house would stop and thank me for buying it, because it always looked so clean compared to the state the previous owners had kept it in. I always thanked them but never told them I’d been there all along.

We sold that house and the wife and I moved up to Happy Valley with a little money in our pockets. We moved in with mom again, after Rusty died, while we looked for a house. There were two mobile homes out there in the country on my middle brother’s property and my mom lived in one. It was nice and quiet and the stars were beautiful, but I didn’t like stirring the overused septic tank in the rain so the missus and I expedited our next purchase. We (only) had two dogs and four cats then and I thought renting would be tough so we bought a place.

We overbought a place, I should say, that we didn’t really like. That was in a Redding suburb on a sharp hill and the backyard had very little privacy from the rear and left. I hated that. But we were only going to be on Cal Ore for a few years and then sell and get out of that house and out of Redding altogether. We were still writing our next chapter. It got written for us when the economy collapsed and the house went $150k underwater. Eventually, like a lot of folks, we just stopped paying the bill. Three years after that the bank kicked us out.

Magically, we stumbled upon a place to rent that would allow my two golden retrievers, was tucked away in a beautiful suburb, and had an enormous backyard with near complete privacy. I soon called it my favorite place on the planet. Two years later, I bought it and we’ll likely be here for the rest of our lives.

But in my dreams I live in Prunedale. Not my childhood home, not the home I’m in now and not on Cal Ore. In Prunedale.

Last night I had a dream and I was in Prunedale. The details are faded and inconsequential but I woke up wondering why I’m always in Prunedale. In the wee hours it occurred to me.

I’ve been in Mary Lake for three years. I was on Cal Ore for 12 years. I was in my childhood family home about 8 years. I lived in Denver for a week and Pittsburgh for a couple of months. Mae Avenue and Aragon and that Laurel Heights place were a year or two combined.

I lived in Prunedale for 20 years.

I didn’t realize that, for some reason. Most of my life, so far, was in that little beaten up place just outside Salinas. Most of my memories take me there now, whether that’s where they’re supposed to be or not. My formative years were there. Mid-teens to early 30s, when I went from child to adult, single to married, listless to gainfully employed, insecure to confident. Freeloader to homeowner. Tommy to Tom.

I look at the top of the page and see a place I don’t really recognize. I look at the bottom and see the culmination of all my years.

My mind, when I sleep, may still take me to Prunedale.

But my heart has truly found a home.

47 thoughts on “In My Dreams I Live in Prunedale

  1. This is absolutely riveting, Tom. You effortlessly blend nostalgia, tragedy, sadness and a genuine positive vibe about your current situation and your future.
    It’s actually a bit telling regarding why you are so easily able to look at all sides of everything, it’s because you have seen so many ups and downs in your life.
    I really enjoyed this, and amazingly I respect you even more

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Boy, we have all seen our share of those triumphs and tragedies, haven’t we? I didn’t honestly realize how much of this story I wanted to tell; this didn’t end up at all like what it started to be. I guess that’s just about as Tom as one can get, eh? 😉

      Thank you so much, my brother. As you know, that respect is mutual, and I’m consistently amazed at your strength, perspective, and positivity. Thank you again, Bill!

      Like

  2. I love this story, well it isn’t a story but a history of where you’ve been. I mean that geographically but mostly emotionally and mentally. You even write about your bad experiences with such emotion and fervor, it’s impossible to see them as bad. Only as Tom’s life experiences. I think Pastor Tom Pole Saw has found his forever home, not just in life but in his heart and mind as well. Awesome post Pastor Tom! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Huntress! I think you’re right about that, but I gotta tell you … there have been some tears along the way. And if you promise not to tell anyone I will admit, there were some tears in this composition, too. So many memories came flooding in that it could have been a book. Who knows, maybe it is. It will lead to more posts, I think, about some of those incidents along the way. But, regardless, thank you!

      And you are hereby designated an honorary member of the church of Pastor Tom. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ohh really? Thank you so much Tom, as long as I’m in charge of the sacramental wine I’m good, lol.

        I think there might be a book in there somewhere, this has been one of the most informative posts about Pastor Tom I’ve read. So, now what we’ve got that out of the way, is Prunedale like Riverdale, only with prunes? lmao

        Sorry that one’s been burning in my mind since I read this post, I had to get it out or else I’d go and taze Baby Kermit to death!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That is truly an important question, and I’m not sure I can answer it honestly. I’m there, for sure, but the place itself is always the background for the stories being told. Does that mean anything at all? Smarter folks than me might know, or perhaps no one ever can.

      Thanks for reading, brotha!

      Like

  3. Do you often wonder where you are when you wake up?
    We have many things in common Tom, I didn’t know until now, reading this, that moving around a lot was also part of your formative years. And like you, I also dream of particular places. My mother is often in my dreams in a bright green wooden house we lived in for just a year, for some reason it’s always this green house and not any of the ones I spent more time in. The subconscious is a deeply interesting place, I like to dwell on it when the rational world seems so brutally restrictive. It was an emotional read. I thank you for sharing your journey and I’m glad you are where you are now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, MP! Yes, I do often wake up and wonder where I am. Oddly, I often wake up and think I’m in a hotel room before realizing I’m home. 🤷

      I remember us having a lot in common; aren’t you one of seven or something like that, too? I have interpreted my nighttime life in Prunedale purely through mathematics (the longest number of years at a place) or critical growth years but it might indeed be something else entirely. I’m not really a psychologist, I just play one on the internet. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is beautiful. I loved and miss that old house. Grandma’s house then to Uncle Tom’s house. That was the place to be. Between all of us cousins coming out to spend the night/weekend, Allison, James, Becky, Bobby, Tara, Heather, Ryan, you name them, they were there. Gramps waking us up in the morning to a tune along the lines of “Wake up, wake up, it’s time to wake up in the morning” while concocting something for breakfast. The late night D & D fiascos (that I was never allowed to be at). Uncle David living in the motorhome in the back, Grams getting shot in the ass, by James, and his BB gun. Oh the good ol’ days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That house did really create the person I would become, more than any other. The more I think about it, the more that people read it and respond to it, I further my understanding of the dreams. Tom, the Tom that is today, was created there. It’s amazing what becomes us. I miss those days as surely as I love the ones today. Thank you, Lo-Lo, for reading, responding, and for understanding me, perhaps as much as anyone who ever lived can. I miss you!

      Like

  5. Reading this post was like peeling an onion – you kept revealing yet another layer under the one before. The thing is, an onion is not an onion without all those layers, and you would not be you without Prunedale or all the other places and the people who came in and out of your life (and thank Godfor the ones that stayed!). Thank you for sharing your bumpy journey– sure led to a smooth road in the end though, didn’t it? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sure did! Thank you, ep, for a really insightful response to my simple musings. You’re right, we are just the layers of our lives, and our experiences make us whole and who we are. My story isn’t special, in my opinion, just different. I guess I should say, all of our stories are different AND special. Thank you again for reading!

      Like

  6. What a fantastic story, Tom. I love the way you told it and the ending was beautiful. I had no idea you’d had such intense experiences growing up. I love the house you live in now–Prunedale helped you get there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Suzanne. Yeah, I don’t talk much about the intense stuff, but there was a lot of little bits along the way. Trials. We all got ’em.

      Want a fun fact? Not only am I in the best place in the world, but two of our best friends are about to move in across the street. Cul-de-sac parties to ensue. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Tom, I relived that story! Living in Salinas and Prunedale are distant memories for me too. I can even remember picking you up for church in that little house! The Small’s church, it was a special memory for me!
    Thank you for telling us how you managed to “grow up” a well rounded wonderful young man!!!!! You are special!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you, Linda! Those memories just came flooding in and wouldn’t stop. The best days writing are the ones where the stories just plain tell themselves. This was definitely that case!

      All those memories of the Small’s church, of the rides, of the talks — all of it — like it was just yesterday. Thank you so much for reading!

      Like

  8. This made me think back to my childhood living arrangements. I was in one house until I was 15 and then everything changed and I lived in different houses, cities, states, and countries continually for quite a while. Sometimes when I dream, I’ll be in one of those houses, walk through the door, and be in another one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, that happens to me, too! When I was young I felt I’d be in my childhood home forever. 40 years later I finally have that feeling again. There’s something to be said for stability. 😉

      Thanks for reading, Ar!

      Like

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