We left off with me driving around Southern California in a daze. I remember at one point making a tearful phone call to my mother from a public phone in a mall. I spent the weekend driving around looking for a place to live. I was determined to be out of the way when my mother’s friend came home from vacation. As a drove through Huntington Beach, I saw a “For Rent” sign just a block or so from the beach. A very blond woman and her boyfriend were happy to sublet the available room to me. They would also be my only friends in SoCal and because of this I was slow to realize the problems this couple had.

My next hurdle was discovering that cars matter. When moving from the suburbs into downtown DC, I gave up my car which made life easier. There was plenty of transportation options and parking was a nightmare. Well, I had a culture shock experience as the converse was true in Orange County. I called up employment agencies only to be told that I needed a car to get an interview. When I finally started to get a few temp jobs, it took a few buses and hours to get to a location that a car would get you in 30 minutes. Eventually I borrowed someone’s cast off bike to get around. I was using up my meager savings and living off of Top Ramen. When my roommates/friends told me that we were being kicked out of our townhouse apartment, I believed the story that it was the previous roommate’s fault. We found a house for rent together and I even took on the primary responsibility for the lease. I was having a tough time and not ready to give up on my only social contacts.

When I wasn’t working, I hung out watching the boyfriend who was a tattoo artist. This was my introduction to the idea of tattoos as art. I only knew the tattooed sailor stereotype before meeting this couple. I watched him create the drawings from scratch and then painstakingly ink them onto skin. I was fascinated and amazed as I watched feathered wings spread across the back of a large motorcyclist. I pondered the idea of getting a tattoo but couldn’t settle on anything that I might like forever. I also hung out with their beach friends and even went to a pot festival if I remember correctly. Pretty funny for someone who doesn’t smoke pot. Sometimes I think I would have made a good anthropologist because I enjoyed immersing myself into experiences very different from my own while maintaining a certain detachment.

However, I became concerned when I realized that the blond was doing crystal meth. When she started staying up all night doing it and blaring music, I realized that I had to leave. I had finally gotten a steady employment gig and sleep was really a crucial element for me. I started searching for another apartment and when I found a little old lady who was renting a room in her house, I thought it would be the perfect respite for someone a bit weary from all the bumps in the road. Sure at 24 I would prefer to hang out with people my own age, but at that point a “grandma” figure sounded quite comforting. However, it turned out that the cosmic joke was on me.

3 thoughts on “Crazier than Fiction: Beach Life

  1. Pamela, I remember my boss Lois telling me during the time period you are writing about that, after your kids leave home and are on their own, you don’t worry about them anymore. Well, I thought of you every day – and still so. Love, Mother

  2. Darn, I’m going on a computer-less vacation tomorrow and will have to wait awhile to read the next installment. Something to look forward to… MIME

  3. Hope you are enjoying your vacation, MIME! Perhaps tonight I’ll get that next post done 🙂

    I worry about you too now, Mom, so I guess we are even 😉

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