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Within a year, I slimmed down to a size 12, chubbier than I wanted. My goal was a 6. But I had a pair of D-cups to even things out. My hair grew out. I got a clue and highlighted my roots. That's when I began shopping on the Garnet strip. I began to meet the people of PB and party with them. With the endless house parties and beach kegs, making friends in PB was easy. I began to attract the opposite sex.

I hung out with a whole group of boys who could drink for several days at a time. They lived on the east side of Grand Avenue in PB, in a strip of apartments nicknamed Frat Row. Those apartments made the typical college party look like a church.

A typical morning would begin with one of the boys doing a line of coke in the bathroom, walking out feeling high and refreshed. He would announce with excitement, "Let's rage, brothers! Today is the day to rage like we've never raged before!"

Various people would be sprawled all over the apartment, hungover and dehydrated. The only true way to relieve a hangover is to drink more. Since the Silver Fox is conveniently open at 6:00 a.m., they did just that. When the other bars closed at 2:00 a.m., beer-pong tournaments would often be held on Frat Row until the Silver Fox opened the next morning.

One groggy, disoriented morning, after one of my promiscuous accomplishments, something in me changed forever.

It all began the night before, New Year's Eve, 2006. Alicia, a friend from Frat Row, invited me to a party in Oceanside. I headed north expecting to have fun and to make the holiday a night to remember. But after my sixth tequila shot, I didn't remember a thing. I woke up in a Marine barracks with a guy I vaguely recognized. At first I was confused, but it wasn't difficult to figure out what had happened.

"Is it 2007 yet?" I asked. I was still drunk, dehydrated, and dizzy.

"Yeah, it's 2007," he replied.

He wore nothing but boxers. He was in his early 20s with a beautiful pair of crystal blue eyes I was reluctant to look into. He had sandy blond hair with a short crew cut that shouted "Marine!" He was attractive but not really my type. At least, not while I'm sober.

"Did I miss it?" I said.

"Yeah, you missed it."

"How did I get here?"

Gradually, part of the night came back to me. I remembered the shots, being taken out to his truck, losing my shoes. But the rest was a blur.

I never heard from the guy after our hungover New Year's morning together. I wasn't surprised, hurt, or disappointed. I was just over it. Promiscuity had officially lost its appeal. Out of nowhere, that feeling of accomplishment faded. I was done with casual sex.

* * *

Running wasn't slimming me down as quickly as I wanted. I started doing muay Thai at the Pacific Beach Boxing Club. My trainer was 25-year-old Eddie Roa. Unlike most people I met in PB, Eddie wasn't obsessed with partying. He was obsessed with muay Thai. His class was by far the most intense workout of my life. At least an hour would be packed with constant punches, kicks, knees, and elbows. I had never been more exhausted.

The first time I saw Eddie, my first instinct was to giggle because he wore tiny muay Thai shorts rolled up his thighs. But once I felt the blunt force of his kick in the ring, his legs were nothing to laugh at. Eddie is ripped head to toe. His tattooed legs have bulging muscles from years of training. His right leg bears a large tribal Thai bull tattoo, a symbol of power. He has an eagle tattoo on his left leg, which represents pride in his Mexican heritage. He carries himself on the borderline between confidence and arrogance.

"Come on! Quit being lazy!" he yells at the group of us working out as we struggle to move and breathe.

This guy is insane, I think.

"Leileileilei," he yells.

It's this weird thing he learned to say in Thailand. I have no idea what it means, but it makes me feel rushed. It tells me, "Move! Move! Move!" no matter how much it hurts. Uppercut, right, jab, knee, kick, kick, kick!

Occasionally a hungover smoker will end up vomiting in a bucket in the corner of the boxing ring. I leave the class trembling. My hands are shaking so much I can barely hold my key steady enough to unlock my car door.

I work out constantly, setting aside everything else. I am determined to get in shape the healthy way, with the occasional Friday night social coke indulgence with the girls.

"You should relax a little," Legs tells me.

I call her that because she has long, tan, skinny legs on a size 0 frame. Telling me to relax is easy for her to say.

Legs comes from a wealthy family in Los Angeles. She is blonde and attractive. She is the typical San Diego State University party girl who doesn't have to work. Her parents pay for her rent, tuition, and shopping sprees. Unknowingly, they also fund Legs's cocaine habit.

This leaves Legs only two things to fear in life: getting pale and getting fat. She spends her days lying on the beach, baking in the sun in skimpy bikinis. She rarely eats and conveniently has a line or two of coke on hand to fight off hunger pangs.

She snorts another line off of my kitchen counter.

"Hey, let's go shopping. I want to spend the money my parents just sent me," she says excitedly.

I laugh at her.

Must be nice, I think.

So I make Eddie's muay Thai class a regular thing. It isn't long before Eddie gets me into sparring every Thursday. This is even more exhausting than his classes. I usually fight Melinda, a girl with more experience and long legs who has a habit of kicking me in the stomach.

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geoffpage Aug. 25, 2008 @ 12:54 p.m.

That was an interesting piece and it is a story I've witnessed again and again in my years here. Newcomer arrives out of shape and out of fashion. They sink or swim. You benefited from being here because of the healthy life-style that surrounded you. Regardless of how superficial it all seems, the striving for beauty and perfection, as you put it, often takes major changes in lifestyle that are very healthy, working out, not drinking much or smoking at all, better diet. Not all of us take San Diego for granted and we're not overdosed on perfection. If you look past the superficial, you soon see we have a good idea of how to live here and it doesn't include fried food, cigarettes, or drinking during every activity. Not for all of us anyway. Congratulations for taking what was the best we have here and rejecting the worst.


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