Spanging in SLC

Long ago I promised a story of my past. This is part of it. I have many little stories that I want to add to it, like my one and only hitchhiking experience. But if I don't post this... its just going to keep getting reworked. Be warned its long, like nearly 1500 words. Its also rough, and doesn't flow well. Any suggestions, critiques are welcome. Thanks.

I quit my job when I was 18 to run away from home with my then-boyfriend, Worm. We planned to go live on the streets. It was early in the summer of 1996 and I had recently graduated from high school. I wasn’t ready to start college and having been fairly sheltered most of my life I wanted what I called “life experiences”. The day I quit (I had been a waitress at Denny’s), I stood in the bathroom of Worm’s mom and step-dad’s house, while he shaved my head for the first time, leaving a fringe of bangs around the front. I felt like this was a new start, a new experience, a new me.

Worm went to Utah without me, it was heartbreaking because I was so fully infatuated with him. I spent the time apart from him living in a trailer with all my friends (who were guys) watching them drink and smoke pot. We stayed up all night and fell asleep curled up in a pile on a futon in the living room right before the sun rose. We talked about everything and nothing at all. Laughter filled that trailer as did camaraderie.

One day Worm returned, he wanted me to go with him back to Salt Lake City (SLC), to meet the street kids he’d met, to see what he had seen. I gladly packed much of my stuff into his van willing to follow him anywhere. We made it to Flagstaff the day we left. We fell asleep listening to Billie Holiday in the cool pines. We hung around Flag for a few days, standing in line at the soup kitchen and finally finding a place that would give us a full tank of gas to start out on. I could have stayed there happily but he was ready to move on. The rest of our trip to SLC was fairly uneventful.

I had been to SLC as a child with my grandma to see the temple. I think of it like a trip to Mecca to those of Islamic faith. SLC, the LDS holy land (well, sort of the real hold land is in Missouri). I had also been to SLC as a teenager to attend General Conference (where I actually met, and shook hands with, Howard W. Hunter who would later become the 14th prophet. That man radiated something holy.) This trip to SLC was different. My hand was hanging out of the passenger window of the van with a Marlboro Light in it. You see I smoked a lot in those days, but soon buying cigarettes would be hard, so I enjoyed each and every puff of the ones we had.

We pulled up to a house party, I only vaguely recall this time. I was exhausted from the journey and really just wanted to sleep in a real bed but this wouldn’t happen until I was home with my family again. Sure there was a makeshift bed in the back of the van, but sleeping in that was only fun for the first few days. I had already grown weary of the situation.

We met and hung out with so many people that I don’t really remember. We sat on the street outside of Crossroads mall, near temple square “spanging” (asking for spare change) something that I never really get did the hang of. But some of these kids were superior at it. So much of our time was spent just talking, trying to find food and attempting to get into shows. We saw the Aquabats and one of my all time favorite bands, Tilt, during this time. We listened to the Misfits reunion tour outside of Bricks nightclub (11 August 1996). Days blurred into each other. One of the houses we stayed at was owned by a man who told great stories. He told us of a haunted house near temple square. He refused to take us there but one of his housemates took us. We had to climb into the building through a window on the second floor. I don’t remember being all that scared when we were in there, but the boiler room was not a place I ever wanted to return to.

We met a girl from California who let us use her shower, she came and hung out with the street kids, always in a pristine, black Crass t-shirt. We referred to her as “Crass girl” even though at the time I had never even heard Crass. I felt like I was “more punk-rock” than she, because I spent most of my nights in a van or crashing on various unsavory mattresses all over the city.

We had a friend named Mitch, he had bright red hair cut into a bi-hawk. He helped me glue Worm’s Mohawk so it was stay up longer. He was from Ogden and took a bus down to hang out in SLC all summer before going home and back to high school.

We met a guy who went by D-O-G (his name was really Josh) and spent time at his house, it was in this weird little basement room of a nice house. He bought me my first (and last) quad shot mocha, and laughed hysterically at me when I couldn’t sit still from all of the caffeine. He took us to see Mystery Science Theater 3000 the movie. He introduced me to cheese fries (these have been one of my favorite things to eat at Denny’s ever since then.) D-O-G wanted to go to Denver, he had friends there, and wanted to see them. He also had money from a tax return. Worm and I had originally wanted to go to Denver, but it was farther from home and therefore would take more gas to reach. He had chosen SLC because it was closer. D-O-G gladly paid for food, cigarettes and gas for us to make it to Denver.

It was nearly September by then. We had left our homes sometime in late July. The house we stayed at was owned by a lady named Bethaney. She had many pets, and no place for us to sleep in her house. We lived in the van in front of her house. We were allowed to shower and use her bathroom. That made life a little more tolerable. During this time I took my first bus ride, a grueling (but exciting for small-town girl, me) hour plus trek from the suburb area we stayed in to 16th Street mall.

While we stayed in her front yard I pierced my lip with a syringe. I shoved a ring through the hole following the needle, then I prayed that I wouldn’t get an infection or any other disease from this. I loved my lip ring.

There was a couple that lived at the house we slept outside of. The girl had long dyed black hair and worked at a dry cleaner. They invited us to go with them downtown Denver to listen to some guy talk. We had nothing going on so we went. Within moments of the beginning of the seminar, Worm and I were wiggling in our seats uncomfortably waiting for it to end. It was a cult, a scary cult, we both agreed and were glad to get out of that building.

One day Worm and I were talking, like we did all of the time, you know, not having a television to suck our time. He told me that he would never marry. That hit me. Not that I wanted to marry him right then nor did I know if I ever really wanted to marry him. I just knew that I did one day want to marry. But to know that he and I had no future made me miserable. It wasn’t long after that when I called my mom, and asked her if she could send me money to come home. I was done with it, done missing my family, done with a man with whom I had no future. No matter how much I loved Denver, no matter how much I had always wanted to live there, I could not make myself stay.

Worm drove me home, saying he was ready to go home as well. We didn’t really part ways either. After our time together, all we had experienced, we were linked. It was a long time before I fully severed myself from him. He was friends with my friends, ran in the same circles as I ran. Even after we stopped seeing each other, we still saw each other regularly.

Though I haven’t seen Worm in probably ten years, he remains a fond memory from my past and someone I occasionally hear about via a cousin who is still in contact with him. I’ve heard that fourteen years later he has changed his mind about marriage and is engaged to his current girlfriend. I wish him well.


bodaat said...

thank you for sharing. i find your story really interesting. :)

Everyday Mom Designs said...

Quite interesting.. it's always great to heard stories of our past...

Amie said...


April said...

I'm so glad that you were safe through all of this.

One time I broke into the swimming pool at the Pointe.

I set off illegal firecrackers at South Mountain and got chased by the cops.

I went braless at a huge marching band competetion and told everyone about it, including my male director who was mortified.

I wasn't sheltered at all - yet you and I lived very differnt lives. Very fascinating! I love old stories! It's good to learn more about you!

leaner said...

Braless April? Really? Shame on you. I spent most of high school braless (as I had very little assets).

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