My favorite part of the day during this jubilant period of my life was our afternoon trips to the park.
Specifically, Serrania Park. This park was beautiful and green, with concrete pathways cutting through
fields of grass and a fun playground for us kids to play in. I always took to playing on the slides, and
sometimes I would go on the swing, though my father had to push me. I remember getting jealous of
other boys who were able to swing by themselves, boys who were even younger than myself. It was the
second time I realized my lack of physical capability. The first time I had such an inkling of my
shortcomings were those disastrous football sessions at Dorsett House.
Eventually, my father got around to teaching me how to swing by myself, and after some practice, I
was able to do it. After that, I would always soar up and down on that swing in the Serrania park
playground well into the hour of twilight.
I was very small and short statured for my age. I never gave this much concern during my early
childhood, but this fact fully dawned on me the day my family took a trip to Universal Studios. At the
time, I loved dinosaurs. I was fascinated by them. I had just recently watched the movie Jurassic Park,
and when I found out that there was a Jurassic Park themed ride at Universal Studios, I couldn’t wait to
go on it. We queued up in the line and waited for an hour. When reached the front, the park staff
presented me with a measuring stick, and I didn’t fit the requirements. I saw other boys my age
admitted onto the ride, but I was denied because I was too short! The ride that I was so excited to enjoy
at the theme park was forbidden to me. I immediately fell into a crying tantrum, and my mother had to
Being denied entry on a simple amusement park ride due to my height may seem like only a small
injustice, but it was big for me at time. Little did I know, this injustice was very small indeed compared to
all the things I’ll be denied in the future because of my height.
We resorted to trying out the E.T. ride, which I was admitted to. I had a miserable time on this ride,
however, because the dark atmosphere and the mechanically moving alien statues that lined the
queuing area scared the hell out of me. By the time we got to the actual ride, I was crying in fright, but
later calmed down as the ride turned out to be mild and relaxing towards the end.
I always enjoyed my family’s get-togethers with the Humphreys. These get-togethers became a
common occurrence in my life. Maddy became a very close friend of mine. She was the only friend from
Farm School who I continued to see after I graduated. They had a huge back yard area, and the two of us
would go on adventures. She also grew up watching The Land Before Time, and we would watch the
sequels together whenever they released a new one.
Sometimes when I went to her house, she would have other female friends there, and I played with
them too. I had no trouble interacting with girls at that age, surprisingly. My six-year-old self was playing
with girls, unbeknownst to the horror and misery the female gender would inflict upon me later in my
life. In the present day, these girls would treat me like the scum of the earth; but at that time, we were
all equals. Such bitter irony.
It was now time for me to start First Grade. My parents enrolled me at Serrania Avenue Elementary
School, which was just down the street from Serrania Park. I wouldn’t remain at this school for long,
however, because only weeks into my First Grade year, my parents decided that they were going to
move to Topanga.
Most of the kids at Serrania Avenue school will end up going to Taft High School nearby, a place that
will cause me great suffering in the future. Perhaps some of the kids in my class at Serrania will end up
turning into those who would bully me at Taft. I don’t remember any of the kids from my class there, so
I will never know the answer to that. It’s very disturbing to think about.
I quite enjoyed my brief time at Serrania. My parents sometimes made me stay an hour after school; I
believe this was because they figured it would help me make friends. I can remember this after-school
playtime being a positive experience. There were always games that I played with the other kids. And
thus I was a bit frustrated when my parents told me they were going to transfer me to another school
after only a couple of weeks of settling into Serrania. That frustration would soon cease, because the
years that I would spend at Topanga Elementary school would be some of the best years of my life. The
last years of being a carefree child.
I started First Grade at Topanga Elementary School a couple of weeks before we prepared to move to
Topanga. Topanga is a secluded, mountainous community surrounding a canyon that runs through the
Santa Monica Mountains, located in between the San Fernando Valley and the Pacific Coast Highway.
We had only passed through this community a few times, when we would take trips to the beach. It has
a certain rugged beauty about it.
On my first day at Topanga Elementary, I was very nervous. Since it was about a month after the first
grade term started, I was going to be the “new kid” at school. I remember the nervousness taking over
my body as my mother drove us up the steep road that led into the school proper. My new class was
just lining up to start the day as we walked onto the main courtyard. My teacher, Mrs. Matsuyama, was
very nice and understanding. My mother said goodbye and I got in line with the other students. The first
kid I saw there was a chubby boy named Bryce Jacobs, who was staring at me strangely.
As we got to class, Mrs. Matsuyama assigned one of the students to show me around and help me
adjust. This student happened to be none other than Philip Bloeser. Philip was always very mature for
his age, and he was nice to me on my first day. He became my first friend at Topanga Elementary.
The day turned out to be one of great fun. Class time was not too boring, and we did some fun arts
and crafts activities. For recess and lunch, there were two playgrounds: the Upper and the Lower. The
first and second graders would go to the Lower playground, and the third, fourth, and fifth graders
would go to the Upper. The Lower playground was smaller, but it had some nice amenities, especially
the sloping hill to the side of it, where I would enjoy running up and down “kicking dust”, a game I
instantly created due to the dust-like dirt on this hill. When my mother came to pick me up, I recall
having so much fun that I didn’t want to leave! That’s a first. In the past, I was always eager to go home
after spending hours at school.
The drive to and from school was a long one, or at least long for my six-year-old self. My favorite part
of the drive was the descent from Topanga into the Valley. The view of the broad expanse of the Valley
was breathtaking as it opened up before us after clearing the final hill. I would make that trip through
the winding roads of Topanga Canyon every day for the next couple of weeks, before we moved to the
new house. Sometimes my mother would pick me up, and sometimes my nanny would. I don’t
remember the name of this nanny, as she was only with us for a brief period of time.
I loved the new house the moment I laid eyes on it. It was a beautiful, round, wooden house located
up the road from Valley View Drive, in the better part of Topanga. It had two stories, a swimming pool,
and a lovely deck that provided a view of the lush mountains. I instantly named it the “Round House”.
I was sad to leave our house in Woodland Hills, our first house in America. I would miss the good
times I had there, playing with Maddy and my other friends, swimming in the pool, the close proximity
to Serrania Park where I spent a lot of time enjoying the elations of a carefree childhood. Our new
Round House in Topanga, however, turned out to be a worthy replacement.
My room at the Round House was a bit smaller than my old one, but I remember it being very cozy.
Shortly after we moved in, Ah-Mah came to visit from England, and she baked my favorite peanut
cookies. We had some very happy times during the beginnings of my life there.
My father’s new directing career was taking off quite well too, and he would go away a lot to direct
commercials for prestigious companies, leaving my mother and the nanny to look after me. The only
downside of this was my father’s absence from my life. Despite this, I always looked up to him as a
powerful and successful man.
Adjusting to my new environment in Topanga was quite easy for me, especially since school was so
much fun. I was now a Topanga Kid. During recess at school, I started noticing this boy with slightly long
blonde hair who also enjoyed kicking dust. Before I met him, I always mentally nicknamed him the “King
Arthur Kid”, due the regal look his hairstyle gave him. It was only a matter of time before our dusting
kicking antics would collide with each other. We then teamed up and starting playing the game
together, and this was the start of a long and interesting friendship. This boy’s name was James Ellis, and
he would become my best friend for the next 14 years of my life.
Sometimes, the two of us would join with Philip Bloeser and some other boys, and play fun games
like handball, war games, and tag.
Soon enough, I would start having frequent playdates with James Ellis. His house was just down the
hill from mine. James’s father was named Arte; and his mother, Kim, became one of my mother’s best
Christmas arrived quickly, and for my present I got my first video game console, a Nintendo 64! I had
little knowledge of video games before this. I barely knew what they were. My father is the one who
introduced me to them. With the Nintendo 64, my father bought the games Star Wars: Shadows of the
Empire, and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. I was fascinated with this new form of entertainment, and my
father and I would bond a lot over our video game sessions.
Of course, while playing these video games, my innocent, happy self knew nothing of the significant
role video games would play during a large portion of my life… and the sanctuary such games would
eventually provide for me from the cruelties of this world. For now, they were just a form of
entertainment like any other hobby.
Life was good at the round house, but soon enough I had to witness my mother and father get into a
lot of arguments. I was too young at the time to understand what they were arguing about, but I knew
they were not getting along. It didn’t really concern me all too much, because every other aspect of my
life was wonderful.
I had playdates with James Ellis every week. Sometimes he would surprise me with a visit after
school, as we lived so close by. I went over to Philip Bloeser’s house a few times as well, and I met his
younger brother, Jeffrey. The Bloeser’s also became good friends with my mother. They lived in a nice
house up the road from our own, with a deck that provided an extraordinary view of the Topanga
At some point I learned about the possibility that parents can separate… divorce… no longer live
together. The prospect baffled my little mind. I once sat down with my mother on our outside deck and
asked her if she and father would ever divorce. She told me it will never happen, and that I had nothing
to worry about. I was relieved by that. Little did I know, such a thing would happen in only a few months
My first grade year ended splendidly. I made a few lasting friends, and I had a blast at Topanga
Elementary. I always considered myself a good, well-behaved student, so I was a bit disappointed at the
few times I got in trouble. My class had a system where if we do something wrong, we would change
our card color from green to yellow, and then to red if we did any more troublemaking. I thought I
would never have to change my card, but I had to change it to yellow a few times for minor things.
When first grade ended, I made the resolution that in second grade I will never be forced to change my
After my last day of school, I was looking forward to a long summer break, my favorite time of the
year. I was a bit dismayed when my parents made me attend summer camp. My father had to go away a
lot for work, and my mother needed to have some time to look after baby Georgia. Summer camp
wasn’t all that bad, I had some fun. It consisted of kids from First through Fourth grade, and we played
lots of games and watched movies.