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#11 BEACH MUSIC: A time of tans, blonds and hot pants

Beach Music, an On the Street Where I Livestories is really a tale of two cities; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California. It was originally published in the LA Times Sunday Magazine.

Beach Music We came to California from Canada, with a detour to Puerto Rico that lasted one endless summer of a year. A year in which I turned 15, and my hair turned blond from living in the sun. “Psst,” the boys and men would call after me in the blue-cobbled streets of San Juan. “Psst! Hey, blondie. Psst! Hey, cutie pie.” I was devastated when my parents said we had to go, that it was time to leave the island so that my older brother, Russell, could get a first rate education. The plan was to drive cross country from Miami and settle in San Francisco so that my brother could finish high school before going on to UC Berkeley. But, once we got there in the fall of 1968, we found that …

#15 Leaving Home: A Divorce Story [The Beginning]

#15 Euclid Street, Santa Monica, California

I've been married twice; one that didn't take, and one that did (knock on wood).This is about the one that didn't. You'll notice, it's only the beginning. I'm not sure how long it will end up being, as long — or as short — as it takes I guess. It's one of those transition pieces, the story that took me from my parents' apartment on Fourteenth Street in Santa Monica to a sweet little back house one short block away on Euclid, #15 of the On the Street Where I Live stories. If you've been here before you know this isn't a story in the fictional sense of the word, it's memoir. I'm of an age where I'm looking back, trying to figure out the route my life has followed. A few of you have showed an interest; thanks for that.

Also, I hate titles; mainly because I'm no good at them. I think I'll call this one 

Leaving Home

I looked at the clock glowing on the dashboard; just after eleven. I don't know why I felt uneasy. Phillip couldn't have come with us, he'd officially been promoted to Assistant Store Manager and that meant he had to close. He hadn't said much when I told him I was going to see the fireworks with Russell and his girlfriend, but logically I knew he couldn't mind. I went every year; marriage changed things but I didn't think it meant sitting at home and missing the annual fireworks over the Santa Monica pier just because he was stuck at the drug store until after 10pm on the fourth of July. Anyway, we'd all party together at our place after. 

Still, when we turned onto Euclid I couldn't stop the slightly sick feeling turning over in my stomach. The traffic had been the pits. It felt like we'd literally crawled the thirteen blocks from Ocean Avenue to our place. I could have walked home faster. Maybe I should have done that, walked home faster. But I'd been having such a great time with my brother, and Jennifer, and Larry, who'd come along at the last minute. People who'd known me forever and I could just relax with, people I could breathe with. An old family friend at this point, I knew Larry might still harbor a teensy crush on me, but I'd never been interested, and he'd never, ever acted on it. He was a funny looking little guy, prematurely old somehow with frizzy, mousey colored hair that sat like an abandoned nest on top of his head. Worse, he was dull. Make that Dull with a capital D. I just wasn't interested, but he was nice and well-intentioned and we'd known each other for so long, we'd settled into comfortable sibling-like companionship.

"Phillip won't mind it's so late, will he Simmy? Is it too late to come in?"

"No. Right? I mean, I hope not. Maybe I should have looked for a phone?" 
I knew that wasn't really an option, finding a pay phone and a place to park would have taken even longer. I was just feeling guilty because I'd had so much fun. Snaking our way through the stuffed up streets, with everyone honking, had been like a party. A party Phillip hadn't been invited to.

"He can't have been home that long," Russ said, pulling the car over. "How long does it take to close? At least a half hour, right?"

I saw him as soon as I got out of the car, storming across the lawn, still wearing his drug store uniform, a powder blue tunic shirt. Shit.

"Do you fucking know what time it is?"

"I'm so sorry honey!" I tried to laugh it off. "The traffic was terrible and-"
"The fireworks ended at 9:30. 9:30! It doesn't take two fucking hours to go thirteen blocks!"  He grabbed my arm, pulling me along the sidewalk.
"HEY!" My brother was standing by the car, one foot in, one foot out, keys in his hand. "Take it easy Phillip. All we did was see some fireworks. Calm down man."
"You fucking calm down." 
"It's okay, you guys." 

The three of them, my brother, his girlfriend and Larry, were standing by the car like statues, frozen, in disbelief I guess, figuring out whether they should stay or go. I almost couldn't believe it myself. And yet, here I was being dragged up the pathway by Phillip, who had turned into some sort of caveman. 

"We'll do it another time" I called out cheerily, an absurd show designed to convince them that everything was fine. "Everything's fine."

"Are you sure?" I could see Jenn did not think everything was fine.
"It's fine" I called back before we disappeared into the house. I stopped worrying about them when Phillip threw me across the bed. 

"Thank God" I thought,"Thank God." No one would expect me to stay now. Even my father, especially my father, would tell me to leave, never mind the money he'd spent. $10,000? $15,000? Even in 1975 it wasn't much to spend on a wedding but it was a lot for my parents. Phillip and I had been married three and a half months.


Leaving Home: Part Two


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