November 20, 2021:

He had basic training here. Camp Roberts. I drive past it many many times, on the way to study group and eventually to return home.

The little daughter he abandoned was four-and-a-half. Did he think of her, while he was here?

It was more than twenty years before he chose to contact her. That event changed her life, and mine. What change did it bring to his?

There's another location on this road which pertains to him. I drive past it as well. There's a man inside who kidnapped, raped, tortured, murdered and mutilated women. How many isn't clear.

The two men are connected, through a woman. She's the mother of that four-and-a-half-year-old abandoned child, and also of the murderer inside the Correctional Training Facility, more commonly known as Soledad State Prison. Whenever I pass Camp Roberts I inevitably think, if that daughter hadn't been abandoned, along with her unwed teenage mother, would that second child, the murderer, ever have been born?

Inside Camp Roberts in 1943, that man who chose to fight for his country after refusing to fight for his child and her mother. Who didn't have it in him to disobey the hillbilly father who ultimately is the root of so much suffering. His war record was valorous, his civilian life was not. Not, at any rate, before the war.

But the war changed him. There are photos of him laughing, before the war. None, after. Perhaps, ultimately, it was the war experience which led him to want to meet his daughter and her son.

But these are all guesses. I met these people only a handful of times. The murderer exactly once, the grandfather three times. I disliked them both, and most of the people around them. Perhaps it's that dislike writing these words. Perhaps if I'd known them there would be more sympathy.

This is my train of thought, southbound on 101, between Bradley and San Miguel, repeatedly, on replay, each time I make this drive.