It was 1994, it was August and it was one million degrees (which may be a slight exaggeration, but not much). I don’t think you could get more of a difference in landscapes between south London and the southern California high desert. Summer in London - probably either miserably hot and humid (low 70’s) or raining. Summer in southern California - dry, extremely hot (low 100’s) and very dusty.
But it wasn’t only the weather that was different. It was the whole lifestyle. There wasn’t (and still isn’t) any public transportation whatsoever so we had to drive everywhere. The biggest problem we found, apart from not knowing where anything was or where we were going, was the music. The only stations we could get on the radio were country music (ugh!). Can you imagine? You’re driving around unfamiliar roads in the desert, the sun is blazing down and you’re listening to country music? I half expected Clint Eastwood to come riding by on his flippin’ horse!
It turned out that we had a couple of tapes with us (yes, actual cassette tapes!) so we spent our drives playing them. The problem was, we only had the two and they were both U2, the Joshua Tree being the one we played most – over and over and over…because, you know, California’s a big place. That album became sort of our anthem. Words in “Where the Streets Have No Name” had a relevance to our lives at that time
“I want to run, I want to hide…..
We're beaten and blown by the wind, trampled in dust,
I'll show you a place high on a desert plain,
Where the streets have no name”
It basically summed up how I was feeling then, sad, lonely and lost (literally).
Fast forward twenty odd years and I recently had the opportunity to see U2 live at the Rose Bowl (because let’s face it, seeing them dead at the Rose Bowl wouldn’t have been as exciting). Ironically, it was the Joshua Tree tour, so how could I not go and listen to that album …. Again?
It didn’t take long for me to be transported back to 1994. The images they were projecting were exactly those images that I remember so well. Bleak desert roads with Joshua trees along each side. Apart from the fact that Bono is way too political and ruined a great concert, it was a good night.
But those videos, oh my goodness… they brought a tear to my eye. Those days should have been exciting and the beginning of a new adventure and I suppose, in a way they were. But I hadn’t wanted to come to America and those first few months were torturous. I missed everybody and everything about home and not even having familiar songs on the radio made it seem worse. Two young children were with us on those drives, wondering what had happened and how their lives had changed and where their friends were. I often wonder what went through their minds at that time.
It all came flooding back to me as I listened to those songs and I cried. I didn’t just sniffle a bit, I literally cried like a baby. Trying to explain what was going on to my hubby didn’t help, it just made me cry more. Of course, I tried to laugh it off, but who ever believes that?? Memories are like that, they have a knack of sneaking up on you and getting you all emotional, don’t they?
And on a different note altogether, I was once told that Joshua trees only grow in southern California and apparently there's a law that if you are going to build a house and there is a Joshua tree in the way you are not, under any circumstances, allowed to cut it down. You either have to build around the tree, which is a bit inconvenient, or dig it up and move it. I’m not sure how true this is, but I do know those things are everywhere! [although there doesn't seem to be many in this photo I took]