¡Debería haber mantenido la boca cerrada!
Shortly after the only holiday in August, I started packing for one of the biggest adventures of my 19 years. I loaded my beige, four-door Ford Fiesta up to the headliner (Fiesta. Hmmm...foreshadowing?), hooked it up to the back of a tightly packed 17-foot U-HauI, and drove nonstop from Sacramento to San Diego with a bunch of my friends.
Some of the caravan was headed back down to their sophomore year at San Diego State University (paid for by their parents), but I was enrolled at Grossmont, a junior college about 20 minutes east of there. Deciding to move 500 miles from home with a bunch of friends to the warm, beautiful beach community seemed like an excellent idea at the time. Little did I know that I would only be able to stay for one semester because I didn’t have enough money to support beach living. Okay, maybe not right on the beach like you may be picturing, but we were very close!
Like I said, I didn’t have much money to do much of anything. My friend Cathy and I ate at Taco Bell every chance we could. For $1.01, I could get a bean burrito, no onions, and extra cheese, and most days I still had to scrape that together. I was always one of the poorer ones, but I didn’t really mind. I always found a way to have fun! To say my time in San Diego was “wild” is an understatement. I didn’t really look at money as anything that defined me or anyone else back then-nor do I now.
My boyfriend at the time, Matt, continued to live in Sacramento. He and two of his friends, Shaun and Eric (Cathy’s boyfriend and now husband) went on a backpacking trip to Europe and didn’t return until well after I was established in San Diego. As soon as they got back from Europe, they high-tailed it down to see us. And what better way to celebrate their return to the states than to head to Tijuana to celebrate?!
Tijuana—TJ as it’s casually known—is one of the most untamed cities I have ever been to. As soon as you cross over the white concrete, spiral walking bridge, you are accosted by little kids. I mean little kids— like five and six year olds—dressed in ragged t-shirts, dirty shorts, and broken down sandals. They line the streets yelling, “Chiclets, chiclets!” until someone forks over a buck or two for the tiniest box of two pieces of gum. (I kept my money for my Taco Bell burritos. Sorry kids!) The streets smell like hot urine and gross food, but when you’re drunk, who cares! And who in their right mind isn't drunk in TJ?
Thank you Señor, may I have another?
Once you get into a bar, fugget about it! You get drunk just by walking through the front door. I swear, they immediately plop you into a torn, vinyl/fake leather, barber-style chair, tilt your head back, and pour tequila down your throat. Then they tell you to hold it in your mouth with your lips closed while one hand grabs one cheek and the other hand squeezes the other cheek. They shake the hell out of your head, loudly trilling their tongue until you swallow the “tequila popper.” Back then, I said, “Thank you Senor, may I have another?” But writing this today makes me want to vomit! (I wasn’t kidding when I told you the kind of car I drove! Fiesta=party!) So here we are,19 years old, quite drunk and really stupid in the middle of Tijuana, Mexico.
Cathy just after her tequila popper.
Why I should’ve kept my mouth shut
One of us decides it’s time to head back to the U.S. Our friend Sonia is completely wasted and she needs us to hold her up to walk back across the border. I’m wearing this hilarious white with black polka dot jumpsuit and trying so hard not to get it dirty. Wearing white to TJ is a fashion faux.
So now there are about 10 of us staggering back to our cars that are parked on the other side of the border. (Yes, we drove. I don’t remember who was sober enough to drive home, but it certainly wasn’t Sonia, that’s for sure!) As we are walking across the bridge, I hear this chick behind us scream, “NICE HAIR!” (Sidebar: OK. I’m the first to admit, I have always had a ton of hair and back then, I looked like Bon Jovi, but how dare you call me out on it!)
I turned around and screamed, “Are you talkin’ to me?!”
I took off running for her, she came running for me, all of our friends watching and running alongside both of us. We met in the middle. I kicked her, and she pulled my hair. Hard! (Sidebar: Did you read my previous blog where I was screaming when Lex won Miss Nebraska and I peed my pants a little?) This b* pulled my hair so hard, I really peed. And dang it, I’m in my white jumpsuit! Our friends finally pulled us apart.
Who won? Well, I had so much hair, you couldn’t even tell that she pulled it, but I bet you could point out where I kicked her! So in my opinion (and since it’s my blog), I won. May have been one of my proudest moments in my life. Not!
We continued back to our cars, and by the grace of God, returned safely to our apartments and slept off our wild evening in TJ. It’s the first and only time I have ever been to Mexico.
I have wondered all of these years: Should I have kept my mouth shut when they wanted me to do the tequila poppers? Should I have kept my mouth shut when that chick “complimented” my hair?
I love that you were with me today. See you tomorrow!