A series of random decisions changed my life. It never ceases to amaze me how a single moment in time (typically the least likely moment) can literally alter one’s destiny, like a tiny switch on a track (I could use a conception metaphor here, but I think folks are beginning to think I have a creepy obsession).
The first random decision happened when I was lying on an air mattress in a pool in my friend’s backyard in Arizona, and I decided to move to San Francisco the next day. Looking back, that was dumb. I had a job and an apartment and “responsibilities,” like making my bed (mattress on the floor) and keeping the fridge stocked with a six pack of Michelob (not an easy thing to do at age 18), but I had $5.00 and a full tank of gas, so I drove to San Francisco.
I lasted one week on my dad’s couch (I guess not picking up that towel was technically random decision # 2, but let’s not go there), found a job, moved into a scary basement apartment in a scary neighborhood with two big scary dogs that lived in the backyard and were always looking DOWN into my window. This would be a good place for a photo if I had one. Lots of other scary stuff happened (I was a bit of a wimp), but the scary rent increase from $150 to $300 per month is what motivated me to find a new place.
I drove to the closest college to check out the “housing” bulletin board (random decision # 2). I cannot imagine what possessed me to do that because at the time I was actively fulfilling a collective prophecy on the part of every teacher, principal, guidance counselor, and campus cop who had ever crossed my path, that I was not college material (the closest I had come to a college was an ASU frat party when I was 16). In the line in front of the bulletin board, I met two girls, Ellen and Mary.
“Hey, you want to live with us?”
(2011 note – The three of us had lunch together yesterday; we talked about our college age children, dorm life, Prylosec, hot flashes, gas, a variety of aches and pains, alternatives to surgery, earthquakes, and tsunamis – in 1979 when we talked about those things, we were talking about the band we saw on Monday night).
Five years later (and 28 years ago today – yep it’s an anniversary post), I was going to college full-time, living alone in a very nice Marina District, rent controlled, sublet for $300 per month (currently renting for $3000 per month), writing a paper on St. Augustine, and starving. There was a Halloween party at the apartment next door. Mary stopped by for a visit. She hung out until 10:00 or 11:00 because she had to go somewhere (10 or 11 P.M. – remember when something other than sweating profusely started at 10 or 11 p.m.?).
Before she left, she urged me to go to the party next door (she’s an adventurous type – she had a lot to do with that haircut which I might add was well before Sinead O’Conner’s time – Ralphie’s eyebrow is making a little more sense to me). She would not let up, “Just go to the party!” I was scared, I didn’t know the people who lived there, and I wasn’t invited, but I was HUNGRY! So I went (random decision # 3 with enormous pressure from the result of random decision # 2).
I met Tony that night. He was playing nickel Blackjack with his friend, Bob, who was dressed in red tights and a t-shirt that said “Bud Man” and a guy named Tom who had nothing but a big diaper on (Diaper Man?). Tony was wearing a black and white seersucker jacket, had his hair sprayed silver, and his face painted half blue/half red. I was drawn to the Blackjack game.
I was wearing a pink and gray striped Oxford shirt with a white collar and a pair of Levi’s I had traded a mattress for (a decade later, after baby number three, Bud Man would point out that I USED to look so hot in those jeans – we don’t see much of Bud Man these days). When Tony asked me what my costume was, I told him I was “the girl next door.”
There is LOTS more to this story, but even my kids are sick of hearing the good part so I’ll skip it for now. Suffice it to say, because of a foolish whim, a rent hike, and a growling stomach, I no longer have to wear pants with pesky buttons or zippers (and have had a really, really good life).
Ralphie wrote to us about his “Halloween” weekend thus far in IV:
“I saw a lot of my favorite childhood characters get arrested last night – never thought Super Mario would pee on Snow White if he met her, but he did.” (I guess Super Mario should have gone as Diaper Man)
Ralphie added, “I’ll try to get some pictures tonight, I’m going to bring my Disney autograph book.”