Prizes are a Kindle Fire (!), Kindle skins or a $15.00 Amazon gift card. In short, this is a pretty cool contest. But more than that, the blogfest itself is a really cool idea, so I had to join!
What are the requirements of this blogfest?
"All you have to do is blog about a time you did something wild, something life changing. Jumped from a perfectly good airplane? Quit your job to write full time? I’m looking for fun, heart-pumping, or inspirational stories that you have experienced. “Wilde” things you’ve completed on your quest to grow up or move on." - Krystal Wade
San Francisco, 1998
My story is about the night 17-year-old me slept in a homeless shelter in San Francisco. The story does involve some mouldy cheese, but I'll leave that part for another time. ;) Back in 1998 I was travelling the world with my Dad, and on this particular day we arrived on the outskirts of San Francisco near sundown. We used some of our last dollars to get a train downtown, and went to the police station to find out about shelters we could stay in. The first one couldn't accept us due to my age, but they did advise us on how to get into another shelter nearby:
"You need to tell them you've had a drink today. Just make sure you say that."
At this second shelter, the manager sat us down and asked a series of questions, which I shall now paraphrase (along with my answers):
Q: So, what are you addicted to?
Q: Well, what are you doing here?
A: I've had a drink today
(pretty sure this wasn't true as we couldn't afford a drink that day!)
Q: Well, I can't just let you stay here if you're not addicted to anything...
Eventually, the guy did begrudgingly let us stay the night. And what a thrilling night that was for me, sleeping on a paper-thin mattress next to some poor woman hacking up her lungs, and listening to the shouts of folks out on the street who sounded in danger of killing each other. But it sure did make me appreciate my own life a lot more. At least, the life I led when not travelling with Dad.
The next morning, we had a family wedding to attend. It was a fair way from where we'd spent the night, and we got part of the way there by bus, but wound up at the bottom of a very large hill when we needed to be at the top. This was when I did my last bit of hitch-hiking for 1998, when a very kind stranger picked us up and drove us all the way to the wedding venue. Here is an excerpt of an email I sent home to my mother after all this had gone down:
-only just made it to <cousin's> wedding, arrived in a Jag with a guy who picked us up hitching, who tooted the horn in front of the guests and then, as a joke, got out and opened our door for us—a very nice man!
It was particularly amusing to have this well-dressed, spiffy-looking guy pretend to be our chauffeur when we were looking so incredibly scruffy. Oh, and as a nice ending to this particular story, our very generous relatives put us up in the Radisson that night.