Those days, after more than a year in San Francisco I began to feel like I stepped into suspended animation once again. I concluded my life wasn’t moving forward. True there’s always various options one could look into; these eluded me in that moment of my existence.
I found myself just hanging around and not doing much apart from work and roaming the city.
It was roughly a little more than a week after that first trip into the Los Angeles area when I realised this young man from the Fiji Islands was craving the warmer climate of southern California. You’re surely not surprised are you?
By the end of the 2nd week I had given notice to my employer. Leaving the hotel restaurant in good standings as well, I offered to stay with them till they replaced me.
Autumn was definitely in the air when I bought my one-way ticket on the Greyhound bus and headed down to Los Angeles. I got off the bus at the Santa Monica station. After a little searching I found myself a motel room for about $2.75 per night. This was on Wilshire Boulevard in West Los Angeles, a nice place to be.
I would stay there for about a week. Settling in the first thing for me to do was take a walk. I returned to the room feeling relaxed. Turning to the pages of my little notebook I refreshed myself on a couple of goals.
Before I left home my brother had suggested I carry this with me at all times as it would prove really useful. “Write our home address in it just in case you suddenly feel like sending home a postcard,” he told me. The first Palm Pilot right?
One of the things on my to-do list was to try and find a treasured childhood friend, made through the mail. Yes I’m talking pen pal here. It sure would be nice to meet him face to face.
I inquired with someone as to the location of the address. Go close to Overland and Pico someone said. “This street you’re looking for will cross Pico Boulevard and then you’ll make a right turn. From there it may be another mile or so,” another friendly face told me.
Someone else said to take a bus and go towards Rancho Park Golf Course. I was directed east. Well there was no shortage of people willing to give me directions.
Once I finally arrived in that neck of the woods I popped into a local business asking for continued directions, just to be sure you know. One man in this little store told me, “If you’re walking it’ll be a ways.” Well I was prepared to take the walk that might lead me to a childhood friend; this was my only plan for the day.
Eyeing me out of curiosity I think, he continued, “First there will be a golf course, don’t worry the street will give way into a residential area.” A couple more directive words and I was set. Thanking him I left his shop and began the longest part of my journey.
And once I made that right turn I passed the golf course everyone seemed to mention. The road started to slope a bit and then it went up again. I began looking at the house numbers.
I had walked and walked but as I was taken in by the the layout of the neighborhood I didn’t really feel the distance.
At last on my left hand side I came upon the address I’d been hoping to find. It was a wonderful white painted, single story home. So there it was, the actual home of my un-met friend, my pen pal of years past.
I stood silently there for quite some time wondering what I should do now. A hundred thoughts raced through my mind … what if? What if it’s the wrong address? What if the people inside think I’m a bad person and shriek in fear? What if …?
I finally pressed the doorbell button.
It must’ve been nearly 3 minutes before I heard anything besides my own heartbeat and that was the click of the door. Well that certainly was enough time for my nerves to be in more of a spin than they already were.
A beautiful lady cautiously opened the front door and only slightly at that. “Can I help you?” she said. Stunned – I said nothing for a moment. I wanted to say, ‘Mom.’ I was beginning to feel all too strange but I pushed myself to say something, ‘I am looking for my friend. This is the address I’ve got for him.’
“Who’s your friend, have you a name?” she asked me with the door still ajar. I nervously replied, ‘Dave? David.’ Her eyes grew bigger yet she was listening to me in quiet thought I suspect.
I bravely continued to speak, ‘My name is Parma and I’ve come from the Fiji Islands and now to Los Angeles to meet him …’ and then my voice sort of trailed off.
She turned her head slightly towards the inside of the house and said in a louder voice “Honey! Dave, come here!” Soon the door was opened a bit more and a young man was looking at me with the same wide-eyes (apparently he was recognizing me from the earlier photos I had sent to him in our communications).
He said with a brightly lit face, “Mom! This is my pen pal Parma! We used to correspond when we were so much younger, remember?” Instantly her face showed immediate relief and the door opened wide. ‘I told you Dave, someday I will come and meet you.’
I was practically rustled into the house with overwhelming affection. Only once did his mother call me by my name because after that it was, oh honey this and honey that and on and on and lots of hugs too! Imagine how the questions flew around in all directions that afternoon.
And when his dad came home, his surprise was worth a thousand dollars as well. He had entered the living room simply expecting the normal evening when his eyes fell upon me. “Who have we here?”
I stood up right away and Dave taking the cue also rose and immediately introduced us. “Remember dad how I used to correspond with a kid in the Fiji Islands years ago?” Dave asked his father.
Mr. Elson looked thoughtful for a few moments and then his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, just like Dave’s had earlier. He couldn’t believe it either. This family truly welcomed me and yes, before dinner was even finished, I was asked to call them only mom and dad.
Parma (that was a nickname Dave used with me and I absolutely cannot seem to remember how that came to be).