Saturday, June 6, 2009

Red Light, Green Light

It's official. Kalen has her own place, with pots, pans, spatula's, towels, the whole shebang. Well, except for a washer/dryer and a TV, but you can't have everything!

Yesterday we wandered from one end of SLC to the other, looking at the two vacant apartments Kalen wanted to see. The first one was probably really cute inside, but it was not in the best area and Kalen gave it a thumb's down almost as soon as I did. The second one was in a great area and we both gave it a thumb's up, almost before we saw her room. Why, you might ask? Because her roommate is from Brazil! Kalen's Portuguese will live on! Who cares what the room looks like! Well, actually, we did, and we looked and we still gave it a double thumb's up! Hurray!

This entire process has reminded me of my first little haunt, and I use that word purposely and carefully. A haunt it was, and little.

My Dad nearly fainted when I gave him my new address (after signing the rental agreement). It seemed, upon my Dad's review, that I had a GREAT deal, on a quaint little apartment behind a larger home in San Bernardino, with tall trees, wide streets, AND conveniently located in the RED LIGHT district. Naive? Who, me?! Uh huh, I was. I was so green it was pathetic. But how was I to know I had been looking at apartments in the RED LIGHT district? After all, I wasn't perusing the neighborhood or walking the streets after dark in my quest for independent living space. I was looking during the daylight, when (apparently) all my neighbors were sleeping!!!!

Anyway, after calming my Dad as best I could, I agreed that I would be VERY careful and hightail it home at the first sign of trouble (flashing RED LIGHTS?!?). Anyway, the little 1 bedroom house that I rented with my friend Sue Roberts was behind a beautiful old home that was occupied by an 80 year old woman and her 60 year old son, who was our landlord. Obviously they predated the RED LIGHT era by about 40+ years or more. I reminded myself of this every day to help me feel safe (which takes us back to naive).

Of course, there was one more hiccup before we could really move in. When we arrived to unpack, I opened the medicine cabinet and found a partially used medicine bottle - for crabs. Crabs. Oh. Wait. This wasn't a medical treatment for ocean crabs, like, if they bit you or something, this was..........ohhhh noooo!

Out we went, Sue and I, madly dashing to catch the landlord before he drove off and to show him the bottle. Talk about a Message in a Bottle! We heard it loud and clear! I am certain our innocent (did I mention naive?) faces showed our shock and embarrassment as we hysterically handed the bottle to the landlord. (I should add here that my memory of that moment was of panted breaths between Sue and I and a kind of embarrassed grin on the landlord's face).

Anyway, since Sue knew what 'crabs' were, and that they loved to live in mattresses, we demanded a new mattress, which (thankfully) was delivered the next day. So, after ammonia-cleaning the entire place, spending one more night at my parent's home and receiving a brand new still-in-the-plastic-wrap mattress for my room, we settled in for our summer adventure in the RED LIGHT district. This was the first and last time I shared a bed with a friend, crabs or no crabs.
We were cozy in our little place. I remember having 5 visitors that summer. My Mom and Dad. Sue's boyfriend Hector. My boyfriend Charlie and his friend Bill. It was a busy place. In reflection, I imagine none of them wanted to frequent the RED LIGHT district any more than required in the one courtesy visit they made.

I never saw a prostitute (that I was aware of, but my naivete might play a role in that). Sue and I never had any problems in the neighborhood at all during the 60+ days we lived there before regaining our sanity and finding better neighbors who would actually be awake during the day.

The old lady loved us. Her son wandered in to collect rent (I guess that means we had 6 visitors!)Sue and I macramed plant hangers and wall art, we painted the bedrooms really odd colors, we borrowed, actually begged, from all of our family friends and neighbors, as well as our parents, to gather enough pots, plates, forks, spatulas to cook in the tiny kitchen, and we lived on chicken pot pies with chopped sweet red onions mixed in. (I still crave that dish every now and then, believe it or not.) Our bed linens were hodge podge. Our bedspread was a blue floral that used to be on my Mom and Dad's bed, and had been more recently used as our family beach blanket.

Needless to say, we did not have a washer or a dryer or a TV. KMEN and KFXM on our radio was the limit of our entertainment. Of course, we did go to bed before the neighborhood came to life, so we missed out on a lot.

It was a wild and crazy summer. A learning experience for certain. We hitched up with a couple of guys who had us half way to Las Vegas on I-15 before we realized we should probably be alarmed and demanded to be returned home. Lucky does not even begin to describe that evening. We were taken home, dropped off with some swear words (I guess we were a disappointment) and we never looked back as we ran to the "safety" of our humble abode. I worked at the Crest Theater in San Bernardino selling tickets in the box office window, where I received my first lewd comment from an older man. I was mortified and shocked and truly unable to work because I was so shook up. He was asked to leave the theater. I quit the next week. As I said, it was a wild and crazy summer, and we learned a lot.
Now it's Kalen's turn, although I must say that her digs are much better than ours was, she has her own clean crabless mattress to sleep on, I highly doubt she will work a box office window or be hijacked to Las Vegas and Target/TJMaxx are wonderful sources for kitchenware that certainly surpasses our sad array of used stuff.

It was a RED LIGHT summer for Sue and I. We lived, we had fun, we moved, we lost track of each other and we really never connected again. We stopped being kids and grew up fast.

But it's a GREEN LIGHT summer for Kalen, she is off, she is almost 18, she is excited and in a safe neighborhood and I highly doubt anything will stop her now.

I think I will buy her some chicken pot pies and red onions the next time I am in Utah.

Some experiences shouldn't be missed.

John Legend "Green Light"

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