“Let’s Move To Town…”

My sister and I are thirteen and fifteen years old. We live in the middle of the desert. She’s the big sister and I’m trying to talk her into adventure which was a pattern in our relationship but also not that hard that do.

This is because she has a Sagittarius Moon conjunct Jupiter  so although she was a lot more sensible and sensitive to risk than I was, she could be convinced to join me in my exploits on occasion.  That I wanted her there reflects the Libra in my chart. I didn’t want to go alone!

elsa 6 years old on ping pong tableIf you want to picture this scene, we were living in the middle of the desert, sitting outside the house atop of Henry’s signature ping pong tables, the likes of which you have never seen in your life. It had an adobe base (mud) covered in stucco with 2 4″ thick slabs of concrete on top. There was a 1″ gap between the slabs where you could slide the ping pong net mounted on a 1″ X 4″, in and out.

This was necessary because the sun was so hot it would bake and crack the plastic rim of the net in short order so the net was put away when not in use. The concrete slabs would be boiling hot from baking in the sun all day but we’d sit out there with towels under our legs so we could plot and plan, because it was private. This is picture of me, standing on it, at an earlier time. My brother is next to me and the little dog is, Peanuts. He starred in: School, But Wait! There’s A Knock At The Door!

Point is, Henry built these ping pong tables and they were multi-purpose. As an example of that, we had one of these when we lived in town. All the neighborhood kids would come dance on it… we’d have a Dance Contest, American Bandstand style. Back then, you got voted off the ping pong table, rather than the island. Some things never change.

We were barefoot and tanned dark by the sun. We had to squint when we talked because it was blistering hot, there was no way to escape the heat and in whatever case I was thirteen and I wanted to move to town. I’d had it with the desert is all and you can see our personalities here because we already had them. My impatience, her concern for clothing, etc.

“I think we should leave. Let’s get out of here,” I said.

“Let’s get out of here to where?”

“Anywhere. We’ll stay in a motel.”

“What? You’re fucking crazy, Elsa.”

“Oh come on. Do you want to be out here? I hate it out here. I’m sick of it. Let’s move.”

“We can’t move. What’s the matter with you? Where are we going to move, to? We live here.”

“That’s what I hate. Let’s get out of here,” I said.

“How? Tell me how we are going to get out of here and maybe I’ll do it.”

“We can stay in the motel. The one by your work.”

Fifteen years old, my sister lied about her age and got a job as a waitress in a coffee shop in town about fifteen miles away. Thirteen years old, I had also lied about my age and worked in a taco stand, akin to Taco Bell, also in town.

“You don’t know how to stay in a motel.”

“Yes I do,” I said.

“You do?” she asked.

“Oh course I do. Remember when I came home from California? I got a motel then. You just walk in, give them your money and they give you a key. It’s easy,” I added.

“I forgot about that. You were eleven,” she said. “You got a motel room when you were eleven years old.”

“So? We have enough money to stay in the motel. You can eat at work and so can I. What else is there?”

“What else is there?

What else is there? Are you fucking kidding? What about school?”

“You know we’re smart. We’re smart as hell! We’ll figure it out. It’s two months until school. We’ll figure something out by then. Do you want to be stuck out here all day? I don’t want to be stuck out here.”

“We can’t quit school, Elsa.”

“I didn’t say quit school. I said that I want to go live in town.”

“Well, I gotta admit that it sounds good. It’s not a bad idea. Do you really think we can do it?”

“Of course.”

“Let me think about this,” she said.

“Okay. But don’t take too long. I want to go today if you want. I have twenty-four dollars. Do you want to leave today?”

“No I don’t want to leave today. Are you crazy? If we do it, we’ll leave tomorrow after we’ve had a chance to plan.”

“Okay. I am going to cross my fingers about it. I want out of here, so let’s do it, okay? I hate it out here.”

“Well I hate it too. I’ll admit that,” she said.

“Well good. Then we should move.”

The next day…

“Okay, I’ll do it. But you better have this figured out.”

“I do! I do!” I said planning to make it up as I went along.

“Okay. Let’s hear how we’re going to do it, and it better be good. One thing at a time. What is the first thing we need to do to get out of here?”

“This is going to be easy,” I said. “Pack! We have to pack our clothes.”

“In what? We don’t have any suitcases.”

“Oh come on. We’ll use a grocery bag.”

“You call that a plan?” she said, looking skeptical.

“Oh come on. We have to carry our clothes in something, so what else but a bag?”

“Normal people move clothes using suitcases.”

“Well I’m sorry. We don’t have suitcases so if we want to move to town we have to use a grocery bag.”

“Oh brother. I hope the rest of your plan is better than this,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Well I don’t know what you expect,” I said, thinking she was unreasonable and a pain. “I can’t get us a suitcase but I can get us out of here.”

“Okay. Ohhhhhhhh – kay. Once we get our clothes in the bag, then what do we do? Call in a magic carpet?”

“Hey! You’re lucky I’m doing this. I’ll get us out of here and you know it.”

“You probably will. Elsa, you probably will.”

“Of course I will! Now where was I?”

“The suitcases. Our grocery bag suitcases. We are going to get them to town, how? You’re fucking crazy if you think I am going to walk to the road and hitchhike with a grocery bag. You better get us some transportation.”

“I will! I will! I can do that.  Transportation, I will get us some. We will ride to town.”

“You can get us a ride?”


“Okay. If you do that  then I will put my clothes into a grocery bag and we’ll move to town. So when are you going to do this?”


“Tomorrow? How are you going to do it tomorrow?”

“Well, why would I wait? I’m ready to go, aren’t you?”

We did move to town that summer. We spent about two months working and living in a motel, renting it on a night to night basis. We both went to work. Each day, I got off work first so I’d go get her tips, put them together with my money and some from my high school boyfriend who also contributed, then I’d go rent the room.

I have to say we fared well and got away with everything completely.  By that I mean, at the end of summer, my father found us; I have no idea how. But he pulled up to our motel and told us to get our asses in the truck. “Fun’s over!”

It seemed odd at the time, out actions had no repercussions, where my father was concerned. No beating, no berating, no scolding, no warnings!  My sister and I just shrugged and went back to school.

I actually think my father was glad we were gone, but also secretly proud of his independent, resourceful children.

15 thoughts on ““Let’s Move To Town…””

  1. I don’t know why it can be so difficult to figure out effective ways to get out… and to have enough faith to go do them.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story, Elsa, I really like your determination and drive. What did your folks say when you guys just took off like that or did you work it out with them before you left?

    There were times I wanted to do the same thing, many times, but didn’t do it until I was 17.

  3. “What did your folks say when you guys just took off like that or did you work it out with them before you left?”

    They didn’t have an opinion that I recall. We decided to go and we left.

    No one cared if Annalisa lived or died and I had outlived my usefulness by then as well.

  4. Yes, Peppermint, that is exactly right. And there was a learning curve here… preparation. I rented a motel by myself when I was 11, moved to town with Annalisa when I was 13 and left for good when I was 15, feeling I could make it which I did.

  5. I see what you mean – you were getting things in the works with each of these events – and at such a young age too! It’s an amazing story of belief in one’s Self – and being dauntless.

    I forgot to tell you that when we were growing up, our mom would decide to visit family and she would come home from work on Friday, tell us to pack some clothes, and soon all seven of us would be standing there holding our paper grocery bags with our stuff inside, then we’d go load up in the car. When we got to our Grandma’s or our Auntie’s we’d line up our bags along a wall in the basement and that’s where they stayed until we headed home.

    We called them our “Indian Samsonites.” 🙂

  6. Absolutely incredible!! and marvelous! What a sense of adventure, fearlessness, unstoppable need for freedom and self-reliance.
    Can you tell I totally relate? Bought my first race-horse at fifteen, no idea where I got the money ($75, a fortune) as we did not have ‘allowances’ in my family. I probably had a job somewhere.
    Making a dream come true at that age sets the pace, does it not?

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