On the Town with Jason Downs

| Community | August 22, 2019

Greetings fellow Santa Claritans, and welcome to a column that’s all about having fun around town! (Except for this week…a dark cloud descended upon our happy valley this week, my friends…oh yes, indeed.)


It was THE FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL! (Cue the ominous music.)


My amazingly awesome kids


You see, folks, I certainly made my way around town this week, but it wasn’t to watch a show at the Canyon Theatre Guild or catch a fish at Castaic Lake. Nope, this was “back to the grind week,” which is always both happy and sad. Am I right? Happy because the kids are beginning a new chapter of an exciting year, and sad because the beloved summer of lazy days are over. Although, since moving from New York we now know that isn’t entirely true…we will get to sneak away to the beach most weekends until October. One of the many perks Southern California affords us lucky ducks!

Anyhow, our oldest began her first day of high school on Tuesday and I’m doing my best to wrap my head around this particular milestone. Memories of her first day of school as a kindergartner are still fresh in my mind…the little dress she wore so proudly, the beaming smile from the window of the bus, her enthusiastic wave as the big yellow monster carried our baby away. (We can unpack all that this implies a little further down the column.)


Here she is, waiting for the bus at five years old

And speaking of bus loads of memories, would you like to know what else I got up to this week? While the kids were heading off to school, I made several trips back and forth to the U-Haul facility in Canyon Country in my brother-in-law’s ‘78 Chevy toting a lifetime of treasures (and trash) I’d been storing at my parent’s house over in Maryland.

Recently, I flew back to help them move out of the house where my siblings and I had dumped all our belongings over the ages, including when my family moved to Valencia five years ago. It was finally time to go face the forgotten piles of stuff we left behind.

After filling three U-Haul storage boxes to the brim, they were shipped across the country and arrived in Santa Clarita on back to school week (of course). Yippee!

But hey, I enjoy a good work out in the blazing heat, and I’m a sentimental old sap when it comes to family history and fond reminiscence, so I dove into the musty junk with gusto.

When the kids would get home from making new memories at school, I’d walk them through the old memories I’d been uncovering throughout the day: My great grandmother’s handbag still containing her coupons and change purse, my father’s first Christmas stocking from his childhood in Arkansas, the bronzed baby shoes belonging to me and my brother, and of course, a thousand transportive, memory-rich photographs.

Nowadays, we don’t often hold physical photos in our hand. However, they carry a different kind of weight than flipping through pics on a phone. Some of these photos, like the artifacts that came along with them, were a hundred years old. The faces of my ancestors looking young and regal as they stared back at us, imploring us to work hard but also to enjoy our lives. Soak up all that life has to offer because it is so completely fleeting, they seemed to say. Like the sweet little hand of our daughter disappearing around the bend as she waved goodbye on her first day of school.

Like the everyday lives of our grandparents and great grandparents that are foreign to us and forgotten now, lost in time aside from a few quiet moments captured on film. These moments are so important, though, friends. The old and the new. As the poets would say, “gather ye rosebuds while ye may, suck the marrow out of life, and seize the day.”

Which is why you’ll find me knee deep in dust this week attempting to preserve those moments for the day I disappear around the bend; smiling and waving back at my beautiful family and a life thoroughly lived.

Me with my great grandmother, circa 1974

So, there it is for this week, folks. Always feel free to let me know what you like doing around town so I can check it out and write it up: reachjasondowns@santaclaritagazette.com

Until next time, bon voyage, break a leg, and bon appétit!

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