Ok, so far, in this love story, David and I met, I confessed my feelings for him and we started dating. Although this felt like my whole life, in reality it was really only a few months. It was right around thanksgiving when David invited me to come home with him.
I was the first girl that David ever brought home.
I was determined not to ruin it. Although I knew this would be a little tricky since David had mentioned his mom had cats, like around 20 of them, and I was horribly allergic. Of course, not ruining things required me to act like having 20 cats is totally a normal everyday thing I was used to, not a threat to my ability to breathe.
Before we left Santa Barbara we had breakfast with his sister Kalli and her husband. They prayed for our trip to Nuevo...after which I was like, “Where is Nuevo? I thought you lived in Riverside?” I had a lot to learn.
Come to find out Nuevo is the name of the CDP (Census Designated Place) they lived (it’s not technically even a town...no police...no city hall...just land, land and more land) in Riverside county. It’s population and it’s total acreage both hover around the 4,000 mark. David’s family making up a good portion of the population and owning the majority of the land.
No place on earth smells like Nuevo, CA with the pungent smell diary farm manure and the rich earthy alfalfa, sod and sundry other crops covering the land. It is completely wide open, I kind of gasped when we made it through the mountains and looked down on the expanse below. It was brown, baked in the sun with little hints of green olive trees lining the main ways. I felt out of sorts without the green refuge of trees I was so used to.
The streets were mostly unpaved and I was happy to be bumping along in David’s cherry red F150 rather than my hand-me-down minivan. It was obvious from the moment the land came into view that David loved it. He pointed out landmarks and places he and his dad had farmed, fished, hiked. His shoulders relaxed; he was clearly at home.
As we pulled into a dirt driveway I fell in love with the place. It totally harkened back to my early 1990s obsession with the movie Overboard (with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.) The rusted out cars in the driveway, the enormous springs and tractor parts strewn about the backyard bore put me at ease.
I noticed 3 more things as David escorted me inside. #1. The oven was held closed with two shoestrings that seemed to be slightly singed. #2. David’s mom was even more gorgeous than he had told me with long blond hair and piercing blue eyes. She looked more like his older sister than his mom. #3. The “shower” was in truth just a over-oxidized pipe sticking out of the bathroom wall.
As we took the tour of the house, I saw the cats. It was hard to keep count because David’s mom only took in black and white cats. Or rather she took in a cat named, “Fat Cat Moo Cow” who’d sired most of the rest.
As much as I despised the cat’s hair I was impressed by the way David and his family cared for animals. Their compassion knew no bounds, it extended to humans and ran over onto every living creature God made.
The next morning we went to Beverly Ann’s donuts which had been bought out by a chinese restaurant but still sold donuts. Much to my chagrin, Fat Cat Moo Cow and his brood seemed to have reign even over the tiny shopping complex down the road. By the time we left. My nose was completely plugged up. My throat was a straw sized passage that I wheezed through and my eyes were hard to keep open both because of the constant watering and the extreme puffiness. But I was happy, I’d completed phase 1. His mom’s house, now it was on to Hemet and the rest of the family.