A view from 39 years


Carrie and I just celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary. We’re getting into rarified air as far as marriage spans go. It’s been a good run, with all the highs and lows and thrills and chills one might expect across nearly four decades and amidst all the upheaval we’ve seen both in our personal lives and in the U.S. during that span. Oh, and the adjustment to “empty nesterhood.”

I can’t believe all we’ve been through and seen.

Back when we first married, mortgages were running up to 13 percent and getting a house was near to impossible. We’ve gone through major earthquakes together, trashing our home. We both worked our way through college at night while raising kids, doing churchy work, and establishing our fledging company.

We’ve seen “Valencia” become Santa Clarita, and Santa Clarita become huge. Where once there were sheep and cattle all over our green hills, we now have in the very same spot Wal-Marts and Toys ‘R Us, and thousands of homes and then no Toys ‘R Us.

Early on, we lived in Village Homes North, just west of Henry Mayo. Back then, McBean Parkway as I recall, stopped at Valencia Boulevard. Granary Square wasn’t there and if you wanted anything you headed down to Lyons by the Thrifty Drug Store and the Safeway. And yes, our kids did hound us and love the Thrifty ice cream…

We did local sports, Little League, Pop Warner, high school football, track, and volleyball. Boy Scouts and church jobs. The community was close, connected, valuable and helpful. Still is, in so many ways.

We experienced two ill-advised and ill-fated Bush wars diminishing our status, diminishing our national wealth and killing and wounding millions. We’ve seen too many cop-killers, killer cops, and way too many mass shootings.

We’ve seen housing implode, costing everyday Americans most of their savings, and many their homes – and a Great Recession that darn near became a 2nd Great Depression, save the actions of some gutsy politicians willing to act and work to intervene.

And in that recovery, we saw the cheap money hitting the street to bail us out also create such inequality that the rich are far, far richer than ever before and regular guys are still barely standing. We’re in a new “Gilded Age” – one far more gilded than ever before.

We’ve witnessed and lived the advent of computers. The ascent and domination of smart phones and mobile devices making Dick Tracy seem low-tech. We’ve got electric cars, soon to have flying cars, and rockets are right now landing on their butts on ships out at sea.

Billionaires have so much spare dough they’re running their own space programs and if that isn’t a sign of economic inequality perhaps nothing ever will be.

We’ve seen our daughter incredibly saved from a mortal accident through modern cranial surgery. I’ve had my back restored flawlessly with a clever titanium bracket and a sliver of some less-fortunate guy’s leg bone. Katie got a new cornea and it was done in 90 minutes, right here at Henry Mayo. Just 40 years ago, my daughter would have been dead rather than alive and I’d become crippled for life. Amazing.

We haven’t seen it all, but by God, we’ve seen an awful lot.

Change isn’t unusual anymore. Change itself is what life has become.

The requirement to embrace change, learn from it, take advantage of it, and get out of its way sometimes, is now “just how things are.” The slower of us will be passed by. The clever will ride waves unlike waves ever imagined. Pity the non-adaptors.

Carrie and I just got back from a 17-day cruise through Scandinavia and Northern Europe. There’s a lot of very cool stuff going on there, some we should learn and emulate and change here in the U.S. Social justice, for starters. Change is needed, but more on that at a later date.

But flying back, I couldn’t wait to get home.

Sunday was clear skies and the view of L.A. from way up is nothing short of jaw dropping. Our freeway system is simply unimaginably huge by almost any world city’s terms. LAX, for all the flack it gets, handles 90 million souls a year, nearly 250,000 per day! A miracle of logistics right in our back yard. And the Bradley International Terminal is the finest airport facility we saw through our entire trip.

For all our warts and flaws, there’s nothing like Los Angeles in Europe. Our diversity in people, food, culture, climate, geography, economy – all makes L.A. a standout and incredible place. And Carrie and I have been here for the wild L.A. ride our entire married life to see it.

Now, we’re surrounded by some of the most disturbing news we’ve ever seen. An anarchist president is tearing apart American fabric and values. We’re being ravaged from the top down and few in his party have the guts to stand up to it. This may be the greatest challenge to America Carrie and I’ve seen in 39 years. More than wars. More than recessions. More than guns.

As with L.A., we love our country, good and bad, ups and downs. Like the rest of the history we’ve seen, we’ll soon see how this plays out.

We all have front row seats for the Greatest Show on Earth. It’s Trump vs. justice, the Free Press, and common decency. Who, or what will win?

L.A. was great to return home to. The current national news, not so much. Here’s hoping America can rally back to its senses and the next 39 years will be at least as good as the amazing 39 we’ve already lived.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. His column, “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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