Crazier than Fiction: The Series

The story of my move from Washington, DC to Southern California and the first few years here begs to be told after my college roommate story. You might think that a person could only have one unbelievable roommate story to tell. You would be wrong.

First of all, the move to California was something I had been thinking about on my own. I had visited my older half-sister who lived in awesome LA beach style, so when I started thinking of going away to finish college it was a logical focal point. Then when my friend said that she wanted to move out there too, it seemed a perfect joint venture. I gave up my beloved Adams Morgan apartment, sold off most of my possessions and bought a bus ticket. I personally wanted to go for the drive-someone-else’s-car-across-the-country adventure but my friend was set on the bus. After a miserable three day bus trip (and 5 bus changes) we landed in California. The last leg of our trip was separate because she was going to stay with a friend and I was staying with my mother’s friend (who she hadn’t seen for over 20 years.) The big box with much of my stuff in it burst open when it hit California soil. Thank goodness it didn’t do that at any of the bus changes!

We were arriving in 1991 just in time for the 4th of July. It turned out that my mother’s friend lived in a two-bedroom home with her mother and her sister, and I was somewhat horrified to realize that she had given up her bedroom for me. However, they were all going on vacation for a week so I didn’t feel immediately in the way. My friend and I spent the 4th separately and would spend the weekend searching for an apartment. I rented a car for the weekend and when I picked it up, the rental company was all out of the economy cars asked if a convertible would be OK. A convertible for spending the first weekend in Southern California with my friend? Whoo Hooo! Pretty cool, right?

Well, the flaw turned out to be the fact that my friend was not yet over the boyfriend she had broken up with. I excitedly drove to pick my friend up and start our apartment search, but found her in tears when I arrived. She told me that she had booked a flight back to DC and asked if I would be staying. (Not the bus by the way, she was flying back.) To say I was shocked would be an understatement. However, the fact that my friend had suddenly pushed up the date of our departure to California probably should have been a clue that trouble was coming. I was really amazed that my friend thought I would turn around and go back with no apartment and all my furniture sold. I told her that I wasn’t going back and left in a daze. I remember driving in the convertible along Pacific Coast Highway looking at the ocean and the sunset thinking about the awesome time I thought my friend and I would be having. Then I started to panic.

Now every story has two sides, so I want to note that while it was a horrible experience for me at the time I’m sure the story has a different spin when she tells it. I didn’t speak to her for about 8 months afterward, but I love her dearly and appreciate that I might not have taken the plunge on my own.

Similar Posts


  1. Pamela, how well I remember, starting with helping the two of you finish packing and rush to catch the bus in the middle of the night. I hurt for you when I learned that you would be alone in California. Seems like yesterday. Love, Mother

  2. Ah this brings back memories…In 1979, when we were 22, my best friend and I embarked on a great adventure and moved from Michigan to Oregon. We too, spent a lot of time planning this move, researched where to live, saved money, gave up our apartments & furniture and drove west. When we arrived, we found an apartment within a week, and the day that we moved in she told me matter of factly that she had decided to go back to Michigan and attend graduate school. Not to worry though, she would stay in Oregon for a couple of weeks and help me with the first month’s rent. Huh? It was quite a shock to me but in the end I made out just fine and lived there happily for 10 years. I think that decision to stay and face my fears laid the groundwork for all the other times when I had to dig deep and find my courage. I loved your story…MIME

  3. Ah, yes this reminds me that I need to write the next installment :) I should have also mentioned that I was 24 years old at the time. Not much older than you.

    Mom, I remember our late night departure too.

Comments are closed.