Three weeks into my post-graduation summer, with high school not yet a shadow behind me, some old friends of mine scooped me up and took me out to Los Angeles. Hollywood, to be precise. We had all gone to Orange Lutheran together our first three years of high school. I’d escaped my senior year, though, opting out and graduating from public school. During our adolescent sentence served at the god-school we’d kept a big part of ourselves hidden away. We’d grown up “behind the Orange Curtain”, stuck in suburban neighborhoods, surrounded by conservative views and morals.. We were the product of growing up in Orange County, though most of us didn’t live in the stereotypical house with an ocean view, or have families that resembled any of what we’d see on TV, representing Southern California living. We were dying to get out.
“And on the bus today,
I met the queen of L.A. –
At least she said she was,
and who am I to say?”
“Still In Hollywood” by Concrete Blonde
from the album, Still In Hollywood (1994)
Song Of The Day – September 6, 2011
Los Angeles beckoned us with all it’s glitter and glamour, and all that decadent decay. Even the dirt and grime seemed appealing. Some times I think it was the dirt we desired. We wanted to get our hands and our hearts stained.
That first night I was overwhelmed with sensation. I stumbled close behind my friends, through dark alleys and onto pulse-thumping dance floors. I saw my first needle (not held by a medical professional) lying on the back stairs inside the first club we went into. I think it was called Ground Zero, on Santa Monica Blvd. It was a place that never checked ID. Most of the underground scene back then didn’t. The DJ played Soft Cell, The Normal, and a remix of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” that we all four danced to. We spun around the slick floor while our heads went dizzy from generous swallows of rum straight from the bottle that we’d shared in the car outside.
Late that night, we drove to the Hollywood Forever cemetery. We’d decided to find Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker and leave the flowers we’d bought at the 24-hour Ralphs across the street from the club. The gates were locked when we got there so we ended up crammed in a booth at Denny’s, dumping out all our change to share a salad, mozzarella sticks, and a cup off coffee each.
I kissed a boy without a name that night. I broke a heel off one of my shoes. I smoked far too many cigarettes while I introduced myself as someone new.
I fell in love with Los Angeles that night. Hollywood, too. I think we all did.