Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shacking Up With The Boyfriend: A San Francisco Treat

Yes, we ate Rice-a-Roni. Practically every night. We budgeted ten dollars a week for food and Rice-A-Roni was under 50 cents a box.  I worked at a bakery on Geary; he worked at a record store.  

We were 19, Amjad and I. Just one year out of high school and instead of going to college, we were going to San Francisco.  

Living hand to mouth was never more fun.  Amjad would get promotional items from his record store and then turn around and sell them to the other record stores. With the few extra bucks, we'd put on our vintage clothes and go out dancing:

One time we found a Seiko watch on a sidewalk in Berkely and hocked it for ten dollars. Just the right amount to splurge on pizza.

That had been my third visit to the city. The first time I was there I was 16 and in trouble. I flew to San Francisco to meet my aunt and uncle there for one last exploit. When I returned, I made a life-altering decision: get rid of the drug-addicted-loser-of-a-boyfriend and everything associated with him.

I went back to San Francisco two years later--this time with a guy who was into hommus instead of herion.  There were a lot of things I knew back then: I didn't want to college. I didn't want to stay in Toledo.  I didn't want a paint-by-numbers, collect $200, buy St. James Place lifestyle.

This was no surprise to anyone.  

As I mentioned in my last post, I was a bit different from the other kids.  Art, poetry, music--these things set my soul on fire.  When my high school counselor advised I take a higher math class, I'd have nothing to do with it.  I didn't need math, I didn't need foreign language, I wasn't going to college.  I was not, I repeat, I was not going to college.

I was going to live my life (not to be confused with "finding myself".  That, dear Internets, is what I am currently doing).

Yes, I was going to live my life, dammit, and live it now.

Amjad and I loaded up the Dodge Dart and headed west.  We made a brief stop in Venice Beach where we got jobs and rented a room on Electric Avenue from a character actor named Malik. After a month or so, we headed up the coast.  It had been over a decade since the summer of love for most people. But not for me.  I was in love with the city, with the rat-infested bakery I worked in, with the Japanese garden in the park, with my boyfriend, with the Haight, the boot leg albums we got from the record store, the Jim Dine exhibit at the museum, the clear, warm autum of a city that pulsates day and night.

And then a strange thing happened.  A thing that often happens when you're in a strange and exciting place. You discover that there's a whole lot of strange and exciting stuff you don't have a clue about.

So what do you do?  You probably guessed it.

You return home, work in your dad's restaurant and enroll in the local college, because dammit, there are things you need to know about to live your life fully in this strange and exciting world of ours.

Of course, me being the odd kid, the one who talked to her pen, the one who bought the semi-nude magazine cover into English class, the one who skipped school (3x actaully) to stand in line for concert tickets, the one who protested saying the Pledge of Allegiance, the one who...where was I?

Oh yeah, me being me, I did things my way.  College was still not the means of getting a job and buying Park Place.  Continuing my education was a way of enriching my life.  I enrolled and spent two years studying nothing but music, art and dance.  I know, a nightmare tract for you parents of college-bound seniors.  But hey, would you rather have them shacking up with their lovers and dressing like this:

Stay tuned for more San Fran Stories

posted at Humor-Blogs


Immoral Matriarch said...

Wait wait - that's not a wig??

I coulda swore he had a wig on.

kristi said...

Very cool.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Okay... so I'm gonna have to write you about this one.

Mike said...

Gotta love the fro.

April said...

I agree with this and can relate to it a lot! And when are you moving back to SF already?!?

Anonymous said...

Su-weet! My husband had a matching hairdo in high school, and thank goodness I didn't know him then. I think I'm a paint-by-numbers type, though I'm totally embarrassed and ashamed to say it.

Jan said...

I would KILL for either of my older kids to take ANY KIND of course at the local community college. Dance. Art. Underwater basket weaving.

I'd rather like to lose myself at this point in my life...

Kay said...

Awwww. y'all look so cute!

Isn't it funny how life has all this unforeseeable twists and turns?

Your life as a book.... I would buy a copy :)

for a different kind of girl said...

I really, really wish I'd taken some of the life twists you had taken on this path we chose toward growing up.

Chasity said...

I am really enjoying this series on your blog. I also think it's very cool that there's a place for your heart to regroup and reset. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a place that speaks to their spirit in such positive ways.

musingwoman said...

Your college courses sound awesome to me.

I only managed one semester before getting married, having four kids then living like bohemians and loving it.

Then my husband left, I had to go to work and for a long time wished I'd gotten that college degree so I didn't have to sleep on the living room floor.

But, you know...I think the gypsy in me is awakening again. And I'm glad.

A Free Man said...

First of all, I love Rice-a-Roni, always have always will. I need to replenish my depleted stocks the next time I'm in the States.

Second, the college thing - it took me six years of 'living life' before I finally got back to it in earnest. Those years were hard - sometimes Rice-a-Roni was too expensive, but I wouldn't give them back for the world.

sage said...

I should have invited you up--I had an extra ticket for the game (one of the guys who was going backed out and we weren't able to find a replacement).

Neat stories--I should have done something like this out of high school. But no, I didn't even go away to college as planned, I stayed home, worked my butt off in college and working full time, got married (which lasted till about the time my wife finished grad school). My youth started when I was in my mid-20s!

Jocelyn said...

Everyone should, at one point or another, rent a room from someone named Malik.

Also: what damn dumb parents would care if their kid went to college to study dance/art/music? (*she typed defensively, looking around for just such a parent to sucker punch*)

Jenn Thorson said...

It's a cute photo, there Meg, our resident free-spirit. And WOW, there was some hair going on in the 70s wasn't there?

Candice said...

Amjad was kind of hot in a I have way too much hair kind of way.

Love your stories.

Debbie said...

How fun to hear about your younger days. Love the photos.

ReformingGeek said...

Nice story! That hair is something else and yours is so smooth and silky!

Pearl said...

I think you and I are the same age -- my boyfriend had the same 'fro and I had the same fringed suede jacket...


I loved those times. Absolutely loved them.


My WV is foxonsun. :-) Perfect.

Ms Picket To You said...

um Meg? Since you can't be my awesome babysitter?

well, you know my number and email.

i've been absent, I know.... but I think THESE PICTURES cured me.

Chris Wood said...

Stepping back in time just can't be avoided here and there. Ah well ... good times, clearly.

Chasity said...

I'm just commenting to say you haven't blogged in a while- hope everything is good with you.

VE said...

Damn...you were hot! I wish I had a four foot fro...but I didn't arrive to the San Francisco scene until 1979. You're bringing back memories though.