Last time: A pre-Holoholo science geek and relationship suckah faced Year One on Maui before tiring of the pastoral comforts of island living…
So in December 1998, I bought my one-way ticket from Maui to San Francisco. And I knew as soon as I did, I would have misgivings about leaving.
Sure, at the time I was tired of the relentlessly perfect weather of Maui, as well as the cost of a gallon of milk, being unable to drive over 40 mph, the lack of adequate clothes shopping, the lack of adequate nightlife, the lack of black folks and my Mexican peeps, the lack of guys who did anything besides talking about surf, the lackadaisical attitude of co-workers and nary an In-N-Out Burger in sight!
Yes, I had island fever.
But here I was making money living in a tropical paradise that millions of people in other parts of the world save up all year just to visit for a week. Plus, I was right smack in the middle of humpback whale season. And I was surprised by how many friends were genuinely sad to see me go.
I was on the fence again.
Right before I left, I ended up telling everyone I would be gone just for month, and then I would be back to Maui.
It snowed the day I arrived in San Francisco. For like, the first time since the winter of ’76. That first day marked an unprecedented cold front in the Bay Area starting with four consecutive nights of below freezing temps and an outbreak of tornadoes.
Be careful what you ask for, right?
And well, I also got to drive those high speeds I’d been craving—right into the rear end of a car driven by one very angry African-American lady on a toll bridge.
And my Mexican peeps? They were laughing in the next lane over.
Anyhoo, none of that mattered ‘cuz I was going to be staying with friends in a glamorous city flat! Actually, it was a 500-sq. ft. studio shared by two charming but slovenly 200-pound-plus dudes and all their dirty underwear, smelly farts, ubiquitous cartons of takeout—and wee me!—in the heart of the Western Addition, a district with a reputation for great soul food and, conveniently, even better crack cocaine.
As I remarkably left in good standing—I guess I had enough “flair”—I simply transferred jobs from the Hard Rock Cafe in Lahaina to the one in SF. My first day there, I was wide-eyed with wonder. Not at the scenic vistas of Golden Gate Bridge or Coit Tower. Nor at the hustle and bustle of the Hard Rock’s outer Tenderloin—and rejected stepchild status of Pacific Heights—vicinity.
I was in awe of the gorgeous and friendly kids working at the corporation rock ‘n roll restaurant chain. Of course, it didn’t take me long to figure out that everyone was doing blow in the employee dressing rooms, and each other in the walk-in freezer.
Now that’s what I call flair.
My Hard Rock “trainer” was yet another cutie—a tall smiley-faced boy with dimples and a mischievous glint in his big blue eyes. He looked like trouble—and he was—but I immediately assumed he was gay, like all the other attractive men in the city and at the Rock.
As part of my work initiation, the naughty Trainer and I took a “smoke break,” which I would also come to know later as the signal to hightail it down the block for a shot of whiskey and a line at the Beer Ness. It was there that all the employees would gather before, during and after work for a little relax and rewind, so to speak (see above).
Needless to say, the “one month” I was supposed to stay in San Francisco turned into nine, I got a second job at an outdoors, on the water, China Basin joint called The Ramp and sorta/kinda moved in with the Trainer—the Peter Pan to my Wendy… or maybe he was the Tinkerbell to my Captain Hook… hmm… it was San Francisco, after all—in the Sunset District.
In no time at all, I became enmeshed in hot Trainer love and a scandalous whirlwind of rockstar partying all night on whiskey and/or wine, drugs of mostly the amphetamine kind with some dangerous narcotics thrown in, oiled and naked orgies either involving a lot of sake drinking or bonfires at the beach, motorcycles, paddle and whip parties, partner swapping, lots more drinking and absolutely no sleep at all. It’s certainly not behavior I’m advocating. I’m just glad I survived it ‘cause honestly, it was a lot of fun.
But well, the Trainer and I were tired of all the partying and debauchery. Or were we? Anyway, we decided to move to Maui together.
Next time: How I came to tending goats and playing the fiddle in Astoria!
Samantha Campos is currently writing her second memoir, I Wasn’t Abducted By Aliens But I Do Have Relatives in Ossipee. MTW