I recently this past weekend got together with a bunch of friends that grew up with me in Paradise. We were able to visit our childhood homes and see what has happened to our homes (Paradise will always have a place in our hearts). All I can say is I don’t have words to express the magnitude of what happened. All the stories and difficulties that have happened and are still happening. For each and everyone of us our experience is different and personal. It hits us in different ways. Ways we are not even aware of until those feelings come rushing in. For me there are many triggers, but at the moment it’s nostalgia of childhood friends thinking of past and present and this chimney. Why this chimney? This was the chimney where my families Christmas stockings would be hung across a wooden beam mantle. The kitchen table was right in front of it. A place that brings back so many memories. Although this picture is sad, my memories are not. My friends and I no longer live in Paradise, but some of us still had family there and we all have lots of memories there. I like how my friend more or less put it. Our visit was a bit sobering and we were absorbing both past memories while being confronted with the present destruction right before us. Those two things made it hard.
It was an enjoyable time with my friends. I had not seen them for over 25 years. It was like we were never separated. We got together and it was like good old times. I just wish it were for a different reason, but this has brought us closer together and I feel we will make more of an effort to have small reunions more often. I can’t wait.
Is this goodbye to Paradise forever? Not for me. I have family in Chico so I’ll be around every now and then. Paradise, CA will never be the same though. Homes, people and the environment will all change. I can see a slow rebuild happening in the future, but my little home town is lost, how I know it, forever. In memories it will live on and have a special place in my heart forever.