It's been a long time since I have gone there. That dot of civilization surrounded by nothing but barely touched tumble weeds and flat dry heat. Palmdale. Growing up, I never recognized anything beyond fast-food, Slurpees, and the tract homes that told us we weren't in the bad parts of town. Historical sites named after historical people were only places where I could hide out from school and apply more lipstick. But who was this lipstick for? And who was this historical person they named these rocks for? Many of us never knew. He was probably some dark-skinned bandit who was wilfully forgotten by the squad of rednecks who runs the town. Out beyond the shopping mall, mini-malls, trailer parks, and big big buildings (later learned to be the big big defense industry), south of the numerous mountain shadows and poppies, was a giant city. Los Angeles. The place where everyone worked. Spent hours driving to work. Driving home. Home to the cheaply bought two-story house with pets and nice neighbors and an alarm system.
If they weren't caught in stop-and-go traffic, on their way to L.A., they were stuck turning the wheels of local bureaucracy. Shoveling out weapons and airplanes that were worth more than the whole town...people would wait all day with American flags sagging from their car windows, hoping to see the Stealth Bomber fly by during a test run. Those who didn't work at all were hidden away somewhere--cheap motels, trailer parks--stuffed full of crystal meth. And their kids were hidden away too--with crystal meth, acid, pills, and booze at their disposal. Palmdale. The conservative place. Where people run away to to make their babies, searching for a safe place with pure morals. Plenty of churches and Seven-Elevens on every avenue.
For eighteen years I watched it all happen, and somehow managed to deny it as being real. A lot of people stay, with their dusty dry mouths and wind washed skin. I find it tragic and funny. But I am alright now. Really, I am.