Thursday, January 12, 2006

Not Quite the Black Hole of Calcutta

Be forewarned: The following post contains too many parentheses.

One of this blog's more vigilant readers has pointed out that the content as of late has squelched any information about my personal life. It's true. I've been linking here and there lately, but I haven't been linking you, my dear readers, to my heart. So here's the big news: I'm homeless and loving it.

Sunday afternoon, I moved out of my apartment of the last six months because the girl I was subleasing from returned. (The nerve!) I packed up my things and, for the last time, left the place I will heretofore refer to as Twyla's house. Goodbye, Evergreen Terrace condominium. (And how stoked was I to live in a complex that shares its name with that of the Simpsons' address in Springfield? Very. And now I can mention it without drawing more stalkers than necessary.

I had work through Tuesday evening, though, and had initially intended to spend the these days sleeping on couches, with my car filled to the brim with my remaining belongings. When my parents got word of this plan, however, they balked, figuring I'd be cracked over the head and robbed of the contents of the car. (At this point in the moving process, this would include my dirty clothes, a plastic flamingo, the cowboy hat I bought at Coachella and a few boxes of cords and plugs. Yes, my parents worry too much.) In the end, they offered the cash necessary to rent a room at one of the area's finer, cheaper motels.

Sunday night, I pulled into the parking lot of the Hope Ranch Inn, a small roadside stay that dates back to before my parents were even born. It's so close to the road, in fact, that if a semi coming down Highway 154 had its brakes fail, said semi would careen through the State Street intersection and plow into my room. In retrospect, that's probably how the Hope Ranch Inn draws most of its clients.

The room itself was, in a word, small. (I stayed in hostels in Europe that were bigger.) It also had this sickly sweet antiseptic smell to it, like a cross between an upset stomach and Lysol. (Which is probably exactly what it was.) But not bad, by any means, though, I suppose far worse than anything I stayed in when I was traveling with my parents and not just on their dollar. It was completely within my price range — that being "whatever is cheap" — and I hadn't planned on hosting any cocktail parties there.

With the 101 running just a crack pipe's throw from my front door and the train tracks going directly behind, the whole experience reminded me of this old Goofy cartoon I have the vaguest memories of watching as a kid. In it, Goofy drives all night looking for a room to stay in, but has no luck. This is demonstrated in the cartoon by neon signs reading "No Vacancy" floating across a black background. Eventually, Goofy finds a room, but wakes up to the noise of a train engine barreling down on him. The room, you see, was built directly on the train tracks. This plot snippet is all I remember from the episode, and I have no idea if and how Goofy survived. (Assistance will be appreciated, of course.) Even associations like these, however, didn't stop me from enjoying the fact that I, for the first time in my life, had my own room — in my name and all to myself for whatever I wanted to do in it. And that is fun.

Within fifteen minutes of checking in, I had locked myself out and had to tear the bored housewife-looking concierge away from the back room — where I'm sure she was doing something totally important and life-affirming — so I could meekly ask for an extra key. Honestly, this woman looked like she started hating life around her second trimester in utero. She completely didn't understand the glee innate in a 23-year-old acting like an full-on grown-up for the first time. And I mostly felt grown-up because I took Jean-Pascal with me. (Poor little guy — he and his bowl have moved almost as much as I have in the past year and a half. He's such a trooper.)

So I spent three nights at the Hope Ranch Inn, loving every minute of the seedy, "Mulholland Drive"-esque atmosphere when I didn't have to be at stupid work at the stupid bookstore finding literature written by idiots for the slack-jawed and altogether unwashed residents of Goleta.

I left for home Wednesday morning. The drive was exactly what I hoped such a trip and such a time of year would be: brisk-bordering-on-gloomy, cast in that wintery greenish blue and with plentiful smoke plumes from fireplaces and leaf bonfires all the way up the 101. I won't lie. I love driving on the highway when there's ominous-looking clouds overhead. It always reminds me of the final scene in the first "Terminator" movie, where Linda Hamilton's driving through Mexico and stops at the gas station where that little kid takes her picture and then points up. "Look, lady, a storm eez coming." And then she says, "It sure is, kid," or something. Then this killer 80s soundtrack wells up and she drives away into what is clearly a painting of thunderclouds superimposed over a road. Only I'm Linda Hamilton.

Now all my stuff is in my old bedroom in Hollister, which now looks like the violent confrontation of my life before college with my life after. The TV and dresser and nighstand are with Kristen, my future roommate, while Spencer graciously accepted my books, paintings and Jean-Pascal. (Such troopers, really, all of them.)

I'm returning early Sunday morning — again, for stupid work at Stupidland for dorks — whereupon I will embark on a sure-to-be-exciting couch surfing adventure. In fact, many of you may well be aware that I am currently homeless, because I haven't been able to stop talking about it for the past month. Just as a heads-up, know that if you politely offered up your couch as a possible bunking location — even if you just offered because the rules of conversational etiquette mandated that you do so — I heard you, I made a mental note of it and I may very well call you in the next few days, seeking refuge.

Yes, it will be a pain. Yes, I will tire of not having my own space. Yes, I will hate the drive between Santa Barbara and Hollister long before I can move into my new place on the first of February. But I haven't got a choice in the matter — at least not this late in the game — so I've decided to have as much fun with it as possible.

Keep reading for more of Drew's month of self-imposed homelessness.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:41 AM

    yes, many parentheses -- even though you still missed one.

    and I got the same myspace chain -- from a different person, I think (unless you're friends with the same city-college-attending part-time dj via whom I became aware of it).

    - spence