Nothing good ever came out of San Bernardino, as far as I’m concerned. California’s 17th largest city, the one famously mentioned in the song, “Route 66”, offers only bad memories for me.
Going back through my childhood, I can remember dozens of towns and neighborhoods I’ve lived, but a handful here in this city stand out.
Somehow, my mother and my brothers never left it. To them it’s home. But for me, it’s just Hell.
My Daddy always called it, “Berdoo”.
I rode the Indian Scout to a few of my old haunts in San Bernardino. When I was growing up here, I somehow believed I would never escape. “You won’t ever amount to much” my mother often told me. “You’re not worth it!”
It’s comforting to know that she was wrong.
Daddy, on the other hand, had always inspired me to reach for the stars. Knowing that I had returned to San Bernardino riding the same motorcycle that he had held in such high regard, is the poetic justice I needed to lay some old demons to rest. Yeah, I made it out of this place. Not only that, I made it, period.
I guess that may explain why I found such comfort in riding across the country for the past two years. Maybe I just need to keep escaping, just to keep proving to myself that no place like San Bernardino could ever hold me down.
The last place I visited on this return trip was to an apartment building where I rented my first place. I was 18 years old then. It wasn’t much, and it was located in a dumpy neighborhood. But, it was my first residence on my own, paid for my with my own money. Weeks after I moved in, I saw a guy named Russ with a completely restored Chevy Corvette. I recall dreaming of driving that Corvette far away from San Bernardino.
Moments after arriving on my Scout, a young man named Derrick spotted me taking photos. He came over to look at the bike, but I think he was more fascinated with seeing me on it.
“If I had one of these, I’d ride it far away from here!” he coincidentally said.
“Just hold on to that dream”, I told him. “Whatever happens, never lose that dream!”
Somehow, I could envision Derrick returning to these apartments 30 years from now, riding a brand new motorcycle or an expensive car, and thinking how at one time he believed in the negativity. And maybe 30 years from now, a young man or woman will see him, and dream of how they might escape from San Bernardino.
I took a selfie of Derrick and I, because it just seemed like a moment when everything came full circle.