My sister Margo and I piled into the station wagon, holding a green bean casserole and pumpkin pie on our laps. We were ready to go, heading from our home in Temple City to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in La Verne for Christmas.
Grandma always seemed to know when we would arrive because she was always waiting in the driveway. My sister and I would jump out of the car and run to give her a hug. Their home always looked the same. The rosebushes in the front yard and the trees at the curb with the orange and red leaves falling to the ground meant it was that time of year.
Before we knew it, the moment had arrived – it was time to go outside! Mom gave us the okay and we flew out the door, running to the sidewalk. Suddenly, there he was – Santa Claus, in all his glory – on the La Verne fire truck. We were so excited we could hardly stand it. He threw us candy and waved to us, smiling his usual jovial smile.
For me, La Verne is a place with fond memories of visiting my grandparents for the holidays and on weekends. It is where we would get to see our cousins who came to visit from far-away Northern California. It is a place where everyone came together. La Verne is also the place I met Clover for the first time.
As we drove to my grandparents’ house one day, something seemed different. Mom did not pull up to the front of their house. Instead, she parked in front of a neighbor’s house. Margo and I had no idea why we were there. When we walked inside, I saw him. He was the size of a large hamster, with charcoal grey fur and white paws and a tuft of white fur on his little chest. And we were going to take him home. Clover, our cat, named for the day he was born, St. Patrick’s Day, was another of my favorite memories of La Verne.
But my favorite memories are the long walks Margo and I used to take with Grandma and Grandpa around their neighborhood. Grandpa used to tell us about the orange groves that used to be where all of the houses are. Margo and I collected leaves on the ground as we walked. It was always so beautiful.
Although those memories are a part of my past, I am making new ones in La Verne. This year, during the University of La Verne’s Homecoming Weekend, Mom and Dad and I walked through the street fair in Old Town La Verne. And this is where so many of my new friends are. I never thought I would come back to a city I grew to love so much as a child. It’s funny how life does that. The good things in life always have a way of coming around again.