I alluded to this story in this morning's post. If you are my father, you should not read this. My Dad does not like to hear about this phase of my life; I suspect he feels guilty about it. He shouldn't. This whole experience never upset me. My memories of it are not crystal-clear. My journals don't go into much detail about it all, so I have to recreate this from fuzzy recollections.
When i was eighteen, my parents decided to make their second attempt at escaping the sucking hopeless black-hole gravity of southern California. Their first attempt was moving to Hicksville in southeastern Arizona, back in 1984 (note that Hicksville is a satirical name, not the real place). Arizona failed, but not before inflicting a few humdingers of emotional damage on me. Attempt number two involved moving to Cottage Grove, Oregon in early 1993. I had been to Cottage Grove once before; it was a lovely town, but it was not the kind of place that the eighteen-year-old me wanted to be in. So, as an utterly self-centered person, I stayed in California. I had already been out of high school for two years, was in college, and i had a job at a frozen yogurt shop, so I was cool, right?
Mom, Christine (age 16), Matt (age 15) and Adam (age 11) moved to Oregon. Dad had to stay in Chino and run the shop while Mom tried to get a job and get everything established up there. At first, I had the house to myself, and it immediately became Colleen's Home for Wayward Teens. Nicole and Chau moved in. We ate a lot of potato soup, because i was feeding everybody on minimum wage and that was the only thing i really knew how to cook. Christine was there for a while, but soon went up to Oregon, which was good because I think she and Chau were going to kill each other. Eventually Mom and Dad rented out the house to some people Dad knew, with the provision that I got a room. I must confess that i was so self-centered that I don't remember where my Dad stayed. Nikki and Chau had to vacate, leaving me with the tenants.
The tenants were... lackluster. Bordering on low-class. Not obnoxious, not mean. They just made me feel sad about the human race (I developed a keen sense of snobbery at an early age). Occasionally my food would be eaten by somebody other than me. Nothing horrific or Dickensian, I just didn't like it. I stopped sleeping there. I stopped keeping my very, very meager possessions there and began keeping them in the trunk of my car (Tim - a gold 1979 Mazda 626 with a moon roof and super-bouncy back seat). My dad got me a better-paying job through one of his customers, paying $10 an hour! I still couldn't get an apartment and couldn't find a suitable roommate. I began sleeping at friends' houses, on their couches. I was dating Scott Costello then, so I spent a lot of time at his father's house and slept there, or in Scott's van. Scott was good to me, I'll always remember him with gratitude and fondness. I slept at Kristen Davis' house a lot too (Tricia, I blush to think of our vulgar regular Thursday nights there). I occasionally slept in my car, sometimes in the Institute of Religion parking lot or in the parking lot at work.
This wasn't a bad arrangement, really. It was actually by my own choice, and being a naturally restless and unsettled person, I think I kind of thrived a little bit. I had to quit school because my job hours changed and i could no longer work nights. If I had really wanted to, i could have called my Dad for help, although the Oregon Experiment was going badly and Mom actually had to get food stamps for a while there. I could have gone to my aunts and uncles. I had a saftey net, so in a sense it's kind of dishonest to even refer to it as my homeless period. When i was on Win Ben Stein's Money (yet another story for another time), i offered it up as one of the interesting things about me, and it really hurt my Dad to hear it on TV. I'll always feel bad about that.
Oregon failed. Mom and my siblings came home. I moved back in. I went on being completely self-centered and I'm sad to say I still know very little of what went on with my family during this period. I'm not sure i ever wrote to my mother while she was 1,000 miles away and struggling. I don't know why i always had to distance myself so much. It was certainly a contributing factor to the humongous nervous breakdown i had back in 1999. My, my, so many more stories to tell!