I’ve often said that that living in Fallbrook is like being in a David Lynch movie. It’s as though an invisible cloud of dream-state hovers over this town made from particles of whacky. At any moment, at least a few of the personalities or situations which surround me are peculiar, if not out of place altogether. When these personalities and situations collide in front of me, it makes me question my own reality. Last night such a collision took place.
Fallbrook sits on the eastern border of the Camp Pendleton Marine Base and the Naval Weapons Depot. It is common to see low flying attack helicopters and large transport aircraft overhead all-day long, and often into the evenings. Fallbrook residents are so accustomed to this that seeing and hearing these aircraft is just a natural part of living here. We are also accustomed to hearing and feeling explosions in the distance, from live mortar fire and occasionally larger explosives. The larger explosions can cause the walls of houses to shake and pictures on the walls to vibrate. The house I live sits on a hill less than one mile from the Camp Pendleton fence. My neighbors and I feel these explosions regularly.
At the bottom of my hill, about 1,000 yards from my house and on the other side of Main Avenue, is a Pentecostal church. The church is charming; an old building with a dirt parking lot and all the signs are in Spanish. The congregation is exclusively Guatemalan. Fallbrook has many Guatemalan residents and guest workers who make up a portion of our population. They live here for work in the avocado trade. This church plays live music 7-nights per week, and the music is always loud enough to be heard from my front yard and inside my house.
Higher on the hill above me, are two halfway-houses where addicts transition from court-ordered rehab situations back into the workings of society. The residents usually stay for a month or so. These houses are here near the center of town so that residents are within walking distance to most necessities. Because of their backgrounds, many of these folks don’t have driving privileges. If there is a single archetype for the halfway house residents, it is this: Caucasian male, 25-35 years old, lots of tattoos, baggy pants, long hair or no hair at all, but rarely with a common haircut, no shirt, and often with skateboard. They skate down my street all day long heading into town, and return walking up the hill, carrying their skateboards in one hand, and their supplies in the other.
So last night, as I was watering the garden in front of my house, I stood fascinated, if not confused, by the confluence of all the personalities and situations which collided around me. I was immersed in a cloud of peculiarity. The tinny sounds of drums and out of tune guitars emanating from the Guatemalan church band down below echoed. Simultaneously, attack helicopters were flying low overhead, chopping the air loud enough to cause the bones of my chest to rattle. In the distance, large explosions from the Marine base could also be heard – and shook the windows of my house. All the while, a steady stream of tattooed stoners transitioned up and down my street on skateboards, and walked back up again with grocery bags of Gatorade, cigarettes, and Little Debbie oatmeal treats to take the place the of drugs or alcohol they are here to leave behind.
As I was taking it all in, the Asian prostitute walked by. Everyone in town has seen her. She walks the streets of Fallbrook all day long and has for years. She’s always in a mini-dress, carries a large duffle bag over her shoulder everywhere she goes, and most days has an umbrella to keep the sun off her head and shoulders. I have no idea where she goes or what she does – she may not even be a prostitute, that’s just an assumption I make because of the dress and the duffle bag. She has nice legs, but they do have that lived in look.
Last evening all of this took place around me. I just stood there, garden hose in hand, watering my succulents and taking it all in. It was as though they all knew a secret and nobody was willing to share that secret with me. The pilots of the aircraft overhead, the prostitute, the dudes from rehab, the people of the church – even my neighbors on their porches also taking it in. Everyone here is very nice – outright gracious, but I just know they all know something I don’t know, and nobody is ever going to tell me what this town’s secret really is.
Nothing big happens in Fallbrook, but for the eccentricity. The eccentricity here – the peculiarity is quite large. It’s the best part of living here, and why I stay. Jhciacb…
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