Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Memory alleyway

We are headed back to LA again today to pick up Leiya's passport. Though we only live about an hour away, I can count the number of times I've been to LA on the fingers one hand. Not too much there that entices me. I am reminded of one of our few trips...

I think it was 4 years ago when Takumi was living in Hollywood (oh please!) and Leiya had come to California on her way to Ohio. Brother and sister wanted to spend a day at the Six Flags theme park and Takumi was driving his old, used battered up car. I bowed out on that outing and let them spend some sibling time together. Unfortunately they chose the hottest day of the year to go and by 3:00 they were wiped out because of the heat and decided to come home early.

That summer my brother was playing surrogate father to Takumi and he was fed up with perceived teenage irresponsibility and unsavory choices. Personally, I thought Takumi was doing well on his own but since my brother was acting as adult in persona while Takumi's parents lived across the Pacific, I kept my mouth shut.

Late afternoon Marcy gets a call from Takumi.

"My car broke down and is making funny noises. I've pulled off the freeway. What should I do?"

Keion had just come home from work and Marcy and I accosted him saying that Takumi needed help and we needed to get to Los Angeles as soon as possible.

"The dumb guy doesn't take care of that car. Serves him right."

No matter who was right, Takumi and Leiya needed help and so Marcy and Keion and I headed off towards Los Angeles. Marcy kept in contact with Takumi by cell phone and we tried to find out exactly WHERE my children were in Los Angeles.

"I can see two freeways crossing... I don't know which ones. I can see a run down gas station."

Marcy stayed on the phone giving Takumi a running stream of advice while my brother drove and muttered.

"He doesn't even know where he is. This is like looking for a needle in a haystack."

Sure enough we'd get close and go too far and have to circle back with my brother getting grumpier and grumpier.

Marcy, in the meantime was still talking through the situation with Takumi.

"What can you see? Is there a cross street? Takumi, whatever you do, DON'T LET LEIYA OUT OF YOUR SIGHT! You are in LA. Be careful! I know it's hot but roll up your windows and lock your car doors."

Gradually we zeroed in on Takumi and Leiya's coordinates, and spotted Takumi. BUT NO LEIYA!

"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, where's Leiya? Takumi's left Leiya someplace!"

Sure enough, Takumi had parked his car in an alleyway, told Leiya to lock the car doors and went out to flag us down. Why the alleyway I don't know. He probably thought it was safer in a back alleyway rather than out where all the dangerous people might be walking up and down the street. WRONG LOGIC.

My brother was incensed.

"Of all the stupid moves that kid can make!"

Keion doesn't swear but he was sure sputtering some expletives in his mind.

We pulled up alongside Takumi's car and found Leiya looking lost and scared inside. Marcy and I motioned Leiya to make a wild dash (6 inches) from Takumi's car to Keion's and in seconds we three females were rejoined and felt safe in togetherness.

I'm sure a lot of this was all part of a very active imagination but I can remember thinking we were acting like we were in a war zone with all the precautions we were taking.

Keion and Takumi huddled over the hood of Takumi's car with Keion coming back to his own car's trunk now and then for some rudimentary tools. I felt sorry for Takumi having to absorb his uncle's fury. Takumi, not mechanically minded, just held up the hood and dropped things that were handed to him. Pretty soon the engine started and Keion came back to his own car.

"He's only going to be able to go a few blocks. We're going to have to find a mechanic and buy a new something-or-other before he drives that thing any farther."

And in a couple of blocks we found a sleazy looking, rarely used mechanic pit. Takumi came back from talking with the mechanic saying the part he needed was going to cost such-and-such amount of dollars. Marcy was flabbergasted.

"That's too much! They're trying to rip him off. That's ridiculous!"

But Keion was at the end of his rope. More silent swearing.

"It's not like the kid has any choice. He can dump his car for good and ride home with us or he can pay the price and get a new part. He cannot go shopping around for a more reliable mechanic. That car is not moving until it gets a new part."

Takumi decided to pay the price. I asked if he had money and told him to call me when (if) he got home. And then we took Leiya with us and left him. In a sleazy part of LA. My brother was coddling him no further. Too bad if Takumi felt wary and abandoned. It was part of my brother's way of raising teenagers.

I don't think Takumi's ever much liked LA since then. (But he's made up with his uncle.)

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