For a good part of my young adulthood, the good folks of the MTS carted me around to and from school, work, and other parts of San Diego. There was a summer where I’d ride the trolley on Saturdays and just read the whole time. I think this is my first bus pass. My mom bought it for me every month. Even though I loved to walk and roam the city on foot, getting a bus pass taught me how to get around, to look at maps and timetables and plan my trips. The Trip Planner wasn’t available back then, so you just relied on printed information as well as the knowledge of the bus drivers, who were never wrong, not then or now.
I don’t remember how it ended up in our classroom, but we were able to play around with a new-fangled picture-taking device called a digital camera. It was silver all over and was about the size of my 6th grade teacher’s giant, coiffed head. The flash was blindingly bright and made my skin tingle. I wonder how that technology all panned out.
Me and my friend, Moneé, were obviously not prepared for this shot. We probably didn’t even know wtf was going on. I am wearing my brother’s JNCO shirt that I had to sneak out with- he hated when I wore his stuff.
Our neighbors from across the street ended up coming to the U.S. a couple of years after we did. Me and my brother were friends with the daughters: Jenny was a couple of years older than me, and Cherrie (“Ching”) was my brother’s age. They were the ones we visited in Wichita, KS.
I had always looked up to Ching and I think she was the first person to show me the internet! She even made her own website (on Angelfire) and was just generally a cool person. She was a girl who had good taste, knew her way around a computer and whose voice never really wavered.
She sent me this letter the year after we visited them in KS. It’s written on a page off of a Rolling Stone issue (cool stationery!). We recently got back in touch on Twitter, though social media hasn’t really given way to re-connecting for reals just yet. I’m hoping I can visit them one of these summers, when I finally make it for that bike across Kansas thing that I keep meaning to do.
Some time during the 7th grade, I started shoplifting makeup at the neighborhood Thrifty’s (on Robinson Ave. between 5th and 6th, Rite Aid now, I think). At first, I was after eye pencils and then it moved to powder and their selection of fine, drug store fragrances. After a while, I was doing it just because it was something to do, and my best friend at the time, Thoeun, got in it with me. We started doing a little business where I would steal the stuff and she would sell it. It was cool for a while, but one time, I got cocky and careless and decided I’d try to swipe a bottle of CK1 from Bullocks (now Macy’s) at Horton Plaza. I got caught and, well, it raised flags with the parental unit.
As a way to “rehabilitate” me, my mom sent me off on a road trip with one of her Filipina co-workers, whose family was taking a road trip up to Morro Bay for a few days. Complete strangers, these people. All I knew about them was that my mom would not stop talking about their 2-acre house and property in Bonita, which somehow qualified her and her family to be my new life coaches.
The trip sucked. I didn’t know them, they were really kind of uppity, and no one seemed to understand why I was there, including me. It was the first time I ever put a finger on the fact that I really don’t like how clique-ish Filipinos can be, because all they seemed to talk about was other people they knew, like it was a contest to see who knew the flyest and rolled the deepest.
However shitty the company, though, I always remembered camping right on the beach next to that big rock, and the way that dusks felt like there- windy and warm. I went for long walks by myself and thought about how I could make money now that the jig was up (hah). I was surrounded by strangers but didn’t feel lonely. I loved that feeling. If nothing else, the place itself was therapeutic, and is somewhere I often long to be.
When my mom started dating the guy who’d eventually become my stepdad, lots of other new people came into my life, particularly, his daughter, Jenny. She was a beautiful dancer and actor who performed in a lot of local theater. Where I was shy, awkward and mousy, she was vibrant, fiery, and gorgeous. She would take me to her dance classes, rehearsals and anywhere else she went. She was the older sibling I’d always wanted, and she seemed happy to take me under her wing!
While I had often heard from my mom’s bf about his daughter, we didn’t actually meet until the night of this performance. She played Martha Cratchit. Later, she’d confess that one of the producers of the show was trying to sleep with her. << Her frankness and free spirit was amazing, and those qualities are ones that I still seek and value in my friendships today.
I found, consolidated, and organized all of my negatives. 12 years. Two binders. Four hours. Apparently, there was some kind of football game today?
A day spent watching an 82-year-old lady out-pace people 2/3 her age and wielding her considerable influence gracefully and authoritatively, while also in the company of other great people. And to think I was gonna spend the day holed up in my apartment, scanning negatives.