Ever been to Sunset and Vine in Hollywood? I was there and around there for a few days in 1988. I had just run away with my girlfriend, soon to be wife.
Up until this point I had mostly lived in rural areas of the West. This was my first trip to the big city. I was 17, a runaway, and I had a 17 year old female (also a runaway) looking to me for protection. To say that I felt inadequate would be an understatement.
I’m getting older now, some of my memories are staring to fade. Not this one though. This day holds lots of memories for me.
We ran away from school in Phoenix, caught a flight to LA. Caught a cab intent on going to the Santa Monica pier, hopped out and hiked through ritzy private beaches, and caught a city bus to Hollywood. It was a busy day. 😉
We found a room. Oh man, what a place this was. We had student ID’s and I had a drivers license, that was it. The person behind the desk was, quite frankly, nothing like I had ever seen before. I don’t know if she was female, male, or whatever, but this person was nice. I believe Dottie really saw we didn’t belong, but we needed a place to stay bad. I had cash, we got a room.
Next stop, groceries. Now, I am, I admit a bit of a country boy. I have lived in cities, but mostly out west. When I say “West” California is not included. Here we are, clearly we don’t belong, in the middle of the strangest place I have ever been, looking for a grocery store. We found one and walked in.
Now I’m not trying to be too manly when I say this, but up until this point I was feeling pretty good. I had navigated us through Phoenix, to the airport (they only found one hunting knife 😳), and through the human wave that So Cal is. Well, all that faded pretty quick when I saw the armed security guard in the back by the meat section. Now, I’ve never claimed to be smart, but I realized a few things when I spotted that guard. Most importantly, we needed to get off the street fast. I was not equipped to deal with this latest development.
We ate canned tuna with saltine crackers that night. Maybe it’s my memory playing tricks on me, but I remember it being pretty good. It kinda tasted like freedom.
The next morning we scoured the area for apartments. It was crazy what they wanted for a literal closet with no appliances even. We went back to the motel confused and uncertain. Dottie, told us “what in the hell are you kids doing here? The pimps are looking at her and the drug dealers are looking at you. You need to get out of here”. This person was at least 20 years older than me, and clearly was a knowing person. The next day we found a wonderful Army surplus store and stocked up on what we could. We took Dottie’s advice and took the Greyhound as far north as it would go. We took a cab past a prison to a campground. We woke up to the sounds of a Renaissance festival the next morning. Our adventure was to continue...