Lost on my first day of school

My Los Angeles Chronicles

You know what people always tell you before your first day of school officially starts ? Don’t get lost ! For some reason, that has always been my greatest fear… I’ve been careful before, and it never happened to me, except the day I really needed to know my way back home.

Here’s how things took place for me that day; I had just moved to L.A. for the first time in my life, I knew nothing about the city and its surroundings, or how anything worked there. I came from Paris in France, just a day prior the start of a new school year and I was so confused about everything, that my host mom drove me to school on my first day.

Now I remember very well how she said “I hope you memorized my directions for your way back” but what I couldn’t actually recall was the discussion itself – give me a break you guys, I was completely jet lagged and whatever she talked to me about, it all sounded incoherent. I just kind of smiled then, and got out of the car… to meet my new teachers and schoolmates.

The day went by full of adventures, we took a party bus to tour Los Angeles, so imagine my excitement and the fun I had ! It was only when the time finally came to go back home, that I realized “hum, I am in the shits” I didn’t know where was my home ? if you’re familiar with L.A. you know how huge it is : it’s literally an ensemble of cities within, that form this large megalopolis.

I knew where my school was for sure, because they repeated “Redondo Beach” like a hundred times during the day. I also remembered that my host mom was not living in Redondo Beach, but this was as far as my memory got me. That day. I didn’t have much of a choice but to hop on the 232 bus heading south, cruising Pacific Coast Highway, and try to guess on the way, in what city my new home could potentially be.

I was heading to disaster, and unfortunately I predicted that situation since the moment I got out my host mom’s car earlier that morning. Sometimes, people (and by people I mean me) do things (by things I mean STUPID ones) without thinking about it (and by that I mean, not thinking at all).

I wasn’t used to these large american road distances, the bus trip seemed to take forever and from the timetable I was desperately looking at, I saw on the map that the route ended in Long Beach… which was definitively its own city, not part of Los Angeles anymore ! I freaked out, and without an ounce of self-control in me, I got out of that freaking hell-ride on the next stop.

When the bus left, I had no idea where I was. The sun was burning hot, nothing around me looked familiar, and I had no way of contacting someone because my phone had died… which was so practical on top of everything else happening at that moment in my life. I felt miserable and started walking without a clue.

There was a bunch of drivers honking at me and trying to get my attention, while I was walking on the sidewalk; it made me feel really uncomfortable, and because I was absolutely not used to these type of aggressive behaviors, I thought I was lost in an unsafe area of Los Angeles. It creeped me out because my parents warned me about bad neighborhoods.

My dear parents, whom I wished were there to help me out, were actually on another continent across a freaking ocean… talk about being lost, I was 9,000 km away from my family. I was beat from fatigue and heat exhaustion, at that point everything seemed hostile but I couldn’t give up there, and do what ? I pulled myself together, because I had to solve this issue on my own.

Then, just as I was being a bit more brave about this series of unfortunate circumstances, a real life biker on a Harley Davidson stopped next to me and asked if I wanted a ride. I had never seen a guy dressed like that, except on TV depicted as criminals. It was out of the question I was getting on his motorcycle, even though he looked cool. I lied my way out of this one, saying I wasn’t far & thanking the dude so I don’t get in trouble.

I walked away pretending I was confident about my destination, while he stayed back for a moment probably checking me up on my bull(sh*t). Then I heard him start the engine and turn around. I paused right there to breath a huge sigh of relief, and let my heart calm down because it was racing like crazy.

When I looked up a little further, I saw a Papa John’s restaurant : and no I wasn’t starring at it because I was craving pizza, but because it looked oddly familiar. Then I remembered when my host mom was giving me directions to come back home, there was a pizza restaurant at the end of my street… I am so obsessed with pizzas, than of course the only direction I could remember was that; I knew my addiction to pizza would be useful one day !

After a ten-minutes walk up that street, a very nice family that was getting their groceries out of the car called me to ask if I was doing okay. They said I looked like a scared little puppy that got lost, and added if I needed something they would gladly help. I told them I was a student from Paris, and I couldn’t remember where my host mom lived. Their first reaction was “oh we love Paris !” then they asked me if I had the number of my school, or if I wanted a ride back there.

I pulled out a folder from my backpack, where I knew I had a paper handed by a teacher in the morning, with the school’s informations… a moment later the mother smiled and told me “there is your address, it’s two blocks away from here, you can see the building” – at that instant, I swear I was completely confounded and grateful !

I just replied that I had no idea, I had the address all along… I felt kind of silly for everything that happened, because there was even a map to guide me back home; but at the same time, since I never read school’s handovers, it makes sense I didn’t know about it, because that would have required for me to actually pay some attention to directions, or advices, or even warnings… and since I’m usually so over it, I didn’t do it this time either.

Everything concluded well at the end of the day. I got home to my worried host mom, who was upset my phone was unreachable (hum, oopsy ?) and after I narrated my adventures, we both laughed so much. It was funny to her that I wasn’t here for two days, but yet she would confirm I was the craziest student she had ever hosted. What was funny to me on the other hand, was that none of that would have happen if I was at least a tiny bit more attentive, but then again, where’s the fun in that.