I moved back to Fresno, back in with my parents, just for the summer. My plan was to move back to LA and reunite, possibly even live with Brodie (who had since told me that he needed me again).
I remember one morning, my mom came to me with a letter that had come in the mail. It was from my university. I went to open it up, excited that I only had one year left of college and as I opened it, I realized the letter had already been opened.
My mother had already read it. I looked up at her face. It was NOT good. I had been asked to leave the school. Permanently. I had been expelled. I was no longer welcome at the university. Noooooooooooooooooo wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.
Me: Does dad know? (That was my first question. He was a fiery, loud Italian man with a temper and prone to yelling at me when he was angry. This would no doubt make him incredibly angry.)
Mom: Not yet. I’m waiting. If I tell him now he will lose his mind.
Me: I am so sorry. I can’t believe it. I know I was failing a couple classes and never going to chapels and there was this one time I was caught smoking behind the dorms and was busted for lying about who I was…
Mom: I don’t need to hear it. This is really, really upsetting but we are going to move past it and you’re going to get a job ASAP and going to city college.
I tried to call Brodie for 2 weeks straight but he wouldn’t answer the phone or return my calls, my MySpace messages or my emails. I knew his password for all his email accounts and I hacked into them, only to find an email he had sent to his ex-girlfriend with the exact same wording he had used in an email to me a month prior, with only one slight change:
His email to me:
I miss those beautiful brown eyes.
His email to her:
I miss those beautiful blue eyes.
My life felt like it was over. I had gone down to LA with hopes to either become an actress, learn how to direct Films or be a writer in the movie industry in some capacity. It had been my dream since I was 8 years old. It was the only thing in my life I had ever wanted to do. I loved my film classes, I loved going on auditions, I loved being in theatre and performing plays in front of my entire school. But I had let men distract me from everything I always wanted. And now I was done.
I finally got a call back from Brodie and he admitted to me that he had become addicted to speed and lost track of all time and didn’t have a job anymore and his life was in shambles. I didn’t know a lot about speed, but I believed him, telling him I was sorry about that but that I couldn’t talk to him anymore. He said something like, “Yeah, just don’t go getting married or anything before checking with me first”. I assured him that neither of those things would be happening.
I decided to join the Peace Corps. I wanted to get away, far away from everyone and everything. Especially the men. Maybe serving God would set my head straight. I remembered the time when I was in Mexico on that mission’s trip and my beloved youth pastor prayed over me saying that God would use me in the same way He used Esther – or that I was like Esther- and that I would bring the truth of the Gospel to all the people of the world. I’m paraphrasing, of course, I don’t exactly remember all that he said, but he did compare me to Esther in some way. I used this as my barometer of what I should do next in my life. I sent in my application, determined to leave the country and serve others.
To pacify my parents while I waited for my acceptance into the Peace Corps, I enrolled in a city college and searched for a job. In one of my classes, I sat next to one of the girls who had been on that same Mexico missions trip with me, years and years ago. Jade is one of the dearest, sweetest friends I have, to this day. She has held me accountable through a lot of my bad decision making from that point on (until this very day).
Me: I need to find a job.
Jade: I saw a HELP WANTED sign in the window of Retro Rag down the street! You’d be great at that job!
Me: That’s my favorite vintage clothing store! I’m gonna go apply today!
Jade: Let’s go after class!
And we did. And I went in and applied and got the job.
I started working there the next week and loved every minute of it. I met one of my best friends that day. Her name is Anna and she is one of the most BA, loyal, OG incredible women I have ever met. I think they created that phrase “ride or die friend” after her personally.
Our boss was this rad, rockabilly child of the 80’s who had The Cure and The Smiths and Tears for Fears and Morrissey and Blondie on repeat for hours and hours and hours at a time. I had never heard such incredible music. I was born in the 80’s and my musical knowledge was limited to what my parents listened to which was: Amy Grant, Louis Armstrong, The Righteous Brothers, Kenny G and, did I mention, Amy Grant?
Anna was dating this fully tattooed rockabilly dude who was much older than us and dressed like one of the rebels from Rebel Without a Cause. I was in the heart of the Tower District, the arts district of downtown Fresno, and this whole new world of punk rock and art shows was being opened up to me.
For the first time in my life, I felt like these were my people.