Let me tell you about where I come from. I grew up in Palm Springs, California and for me living in Palm Springs was sort of like living in purgatory; it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. Back in the 90’s (and today too I’m sure) there was nothing for a teen aged person to do. There were overpriced movies, a small water park and Street Fair. Street Fair was the only “event” that was routinely indulged in, because it was free.
Street Fair is pretty self explanatory. It’s a weekly event that takes place on Thursday nights. Local artists gather their wares and line the street with booths to sell them. You could find nearly every teenager from every high school in the surrounding area at Street Fair. My friends and I had a simple routine for the night.
1. Meet at Starbucks around 7pm and do some loitering. Maybe one person out of the ten of us would buy a Frappacino, but usually not.
2. Walk along the strip (a whole two blocks) and browse the overpriced knick-knacks people made in their garages. There was one artist my friend Danielle and I would arrive to early to see. This Native American guy would create these neat glossy paintings with spray paint, the caps of his spray cans, and bits of cardboard. It would start as an unintelligible blob, but would slowly turn into a ship sailing through a starry night on bright blue water. There would be planets in the distance and whales jumping out of the water. We’d stop and watch him for about 20 or 30 minutes.
3. We’d walk back down to the Starbucks and bother the rabbi at the “Ask the Rabbi” booth. I do hope he still attends. He was so tolerant of our idiotic questions. He must have been aware of our dilemma of most boring city on the planet.
4. Lastly we would loiter around Cold Stone Creamery, bothering our friends that worked there.
The whole night long we’d be bumming cigarettes or giving them, shouting and laughing and generally just being annoying teenagers trying to have some fun.
There’s another reason I felt the deep need to leave the desert after high school. My friends and I were convinced that if you didn’t leave the desert almost immediately after graduating from High School, you get stuck there. And if you didn’t move far enough away you’d get stuck in the Desert Force Field and be sucked back. It’s like getting caught in an ocean current, you can’t fight it, cause then you’ll wear yourself out and drown, but it’s so, so awful to let it take you out to sea. I refused to get caught in the current and taken out to sea.
Of course this was all before I realized I actually sort of enjoy the place; now that I’m older and don’t mind just laying around doing nothing for a change. And it’s true I do have some very fond memories of the desert. One of my favorite things was to drive to the end of Ramon Road with my boyfriend and a couple other friends, park the car at the foot of the hills that surrounded the valley and climb the rocks. Our tiny city looked so pretty and serene from those rocks. The stars were so bright, it was hard to tell where they ended and the faint city lights began. Besides being beautiful and breezy up on the hills, there was also many a place to curl up and make out. But you can’t do that forever, especially after you and said boyfriend break up. No, it was time to move on, I couldn’t stand to stay.
I applied to three universities. The first being Point Loma Nazarene University. I wasn’t accepted, but that’s ok, because it wasn’t nearly far enough away. San Diego, although more entertaining, is too close, you get sucked back to the desert almost immediately. Azusa Pacific University accepted me. I really didn’t want to go there either. They didn’t have the major I was considering as anything except an extracurricular activity. Besides, it was only about 2 hours away, absolutely in range of the Desert Force Field, I was certain I’d be sucked back every weekend to hang out with my friends still in high school. I wanted to get away, start new. Enter Seattle Pacific University. They accepted me, my first choice; first because my parents went there, and also because it was so far away. I loved Seattle; I’d visited every summer since I was about 5. It was definitely outside the Desert Force Field, and it was completely new. I would be a totally new person, partly because SPU made me promise not to drink, smoke, or do drugs. There was my first step at being new and fresh. I was ready for the adventures of Seattle. I was ready to be a new, better person and I couldn’t wait to go.