Thursday, April 7, 2011

Homeless In Hawaii

As many of you know, at seventeen I ran away and became a homeless street musician in Hawaii.


It might not make sense to anyone who hasn't read my journal The Golden Sky or the prequel Bible Girl & the Bad Boy.  Both books show the real reason I left Utah. 
    The crazy thing about this story is that I'd only known Cade for a few weeks when we became homeless. After that, we played music in front of coffee shops and diners.  Every dollar . . . every cent mattered.  We met amazing people, in small towns and cities, people who had more compassion than I'd guessed.  Once, in a small town in Northern Arizona, I told an old man we were living in a car. 
    He laughed.  "You don't need to lie." 
    It wasn't a lie though and Cade and I got a kick out of that man who loved our music and coffee so much. 
   After making it to California, we visited family, then earned enough in Berkley that we were able to fly to Hawaii.

This bottom picture is of us playing for tips at the airport (before 9-11-01).
The top picture is from Hawaii and the money is one of the tips we got while there--I still don't know how much it's worth.
I was so burned in the top picture. 
When we'd sleep on the beach during the day,
sometimes the sun would move and I'd be so tired I wouldn't notice. 
Being allergic to sunscreen can have its downfalls.

Living homeless in Hawaii wasn't always paradise. Cops constantly patrolled the streets.  One time it rained, so Cade and I each squirmed under a bench to get some sleep.
    My eyes closed and I rested, having vivid dreams about my past problems. Before the dream could continue, a splitting pain shot through my side and I woke up. Two cops stood over me. One had jabbed me with something he held in his right hand.
    “Ouch,” I winced. As the other cop jabbed Cade, I screamed. “Stop it! Don’t hurt him.”
    “Homeless scum sleep in Homeless Park,” a cop yelled. They pulled Cade and me from under the benches. Cade stood by my side protectively.
    “But Homeless Park . . . I’ve heard it’s dangerous,” I whimpered.
    “Well, you should’ve thought about that before you decided to sleep on the strip!”
    We edged closer to the park, past a gang of massive Hawaiians who, sat smoking pot, near flickering shops.  The scant lights, spread beams that shifted in the rain.  I held my violin close and worried about the people ahead and behind us.  Once we got to the park, we slept in shifts.  A hippie approached at one point, his movements drugged and greedy when he saw the violin case I clutched and Cade's guitar.  But even though Cade and I stayed back to back, it was a long, scary night.
    So, after that we slept on the beach during the day and then played all night for tips.  We were there from February to April, almost the exact amount of time our son lived two years later.          
    Once (after Zeke died) an old religious woman told me Zeke died because I sinned and ran away, but I hope that's not why.  Even though I know that's silly, it's amazing how words can eat at your mind over time.


We made it through one stolen guitar, a party where we played for some famous people, a moment where we almost got killed by a psycho, and much more.  All that happened in a short amount of time, but through it all we got to be friends with the homeless people (some who were really rich people pretending to be homeless).  We made friends with those massive Hawaiians and I fell completely in love with the stranger I'd left with.
    I learned life can be fun, even if you're traveling with someone you hardly know and can only afford to eat a $0.99 burger.  I learned how amazing people can be even if they're a recovering drug addict covered in dirt.
    I know it sounds silly, but I was meant to be homeless in Hawaii.  Even though it was hard at times, it could be rewarding and it helped me be wise enough to make it through the death of my son.
 Homeless in Hawaii 
Click the cover for more info about this book, or to include it on your 
Goodreads TO READ List
Release Date: 12/10/2012


  1. You guys look like babies! I don't think I have ever seen you with so much color either! Your a champ and my favorite!

  2. Well my friend you seem to have "been there and done that" too. It is amazing how much reliving can be done by opening a journal. Great reading and I am sure it would make a great book.

  3. I see seventeen-year-olds now and can't believe how young I was when I left. We were so little ;)

  4. Wonderful and powerful story, Elisabeth.

  5. If you guys were that young, I must have been younger too! Were you going for the color of lobster?

  6. This is going to be published, I hope. You're bringing it out?

  7. I wish I could be homeless in Hawaii...sounds blissful :)

    I never had too crazy of experiences like that!

  8. I'm sorry that the 'old religious lady's comment has stayed with you so long. I think there is only love in the plan, not payback...

  9. "Homeless in Hawaii" is a great title, but
    (I didn't mean this comment to turn into a post unto itself, and I don't mean to sound like a religious nut, because that's the last thing I am. But "Christians" who use God or the Bible or Christianity to hurt others is just something that infuriates me beyond reason. Please accept my apologies for the long comment.)
    OMG! God would NEVER take your baby from you out of spite. So-called "Christians" who torment people with ridiculous statements like that ENRAGE me! Like it isn't enough that you lost a child, she's got to add to it? That's a sin in itself, and I think she'll have to answer for it someday. Christianity, as I understand it, is about love, compassion, empathy, tolerance, and a heart filled with prayer for "sinners", it's not about somebody using their harsh and very human judgment to bring down others. Or at least it shouldn't be.
    I can't explain why some people suffer in terrible ways on this earth; that's beyond me. But here's the way I look at it.
    Would a loving God, one who WILLINGLY gave His only son to die on the cross so that all mankind could be saved, behave toward man with spite or anger over some petty human mistake? That doesn't make sense to me, and it makes even less sense that God would make an innocent suffer because of another human's sins. I think people who portray him that way are assigning very human characteristics to God. Someone who loved you so much that He'd sacrifice His only son to save your soul, that One would only take your son if in His infinite wisdom, He saw that it was necessary for some reason a human couldn't comprehend. I can't justify your suffering, but I believe there's a time and place, that will reunite you with Zeke so that you'll never be separated from him again.
    A mother does what's best for her children. So you gave him life, and then you loved him enough to let him go. You accepted pain that few can understand, so that he could be free from his. Please, NEVER EVER blame yourself over his passing for any reason.

    (Again, I apologize for the heavy subject matter and impassioned tone of this comment; it may be more than what you intended for this story. Please delete this if it is upsetting to you in any way. It just hurts my feelings that a "christian" would try to use God to pick on someone so defenseless at such a vulnerable time.)

  10. Love the pics! I am not happy with what that woman said to you though. You are such an awesome person!

  11. Thank you so much for your words, they really mean the world to me.


    You are so amazing, your strength, your kindness. You are such an example of Christ.

    In one comment, you summed up a core point from my book. Thank you for having the courage to write this. It struck my core, made me cry and then smile.

    I needed to read your words:

    "Someone who loved you so much that He'd sacrifice His only son to save your soul, that One would only take your son if in His infinite wisdom, He saw that it was necessary for some reason a human couldn't comprehend."


    "So you gave him life, and then you loved him enough to let him go."

    Zeke died in 2003 and yet still so much pain remains. I hope others will read your words and find peace.

    Thank you for being such a sweetheart.

  12. I love all your life stories and I love that I've heard them before they even hit the blog. I can't believe you can smile with all that red on your face though. that pic makes my eyes water because I burn just like that. lol.

  13. Jody-
    I think I'm going to self publish my journal at the end of this year. (I want to send it out for reviews before I publish it though.)

    Cade thinks I should write a memoir about Hawaii. Maybe that would be fun. It would probably be just like my blog ;)

  14. Elisa - you are ageless - You look just as cute and young now - as in these pictures. It's amazing to read about your adventures. Sorry you have had to suffer so much about Zeke - I know you have become a stronger woman because of it. So glad we are friends :)

  15. Very well written, u r a sweetheart =)

  16. What that lady said about Zeke makes me want to slap sense into her head! God would never do that! I couldn't imagine being homeless at 17 and in Hawaii.

  17. I totally agree with everything that Rachel said here. But since I already beat that horse to death with you. You do need to remember that God would not do that and use a child in that way. So people like that are not worth a second thought..

  18. You are an inspiration Elisa. You have gone through so much and persevered. I believe that when Judgment Day comes, the Lord will look you in the eyes and tell you "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Welcome home," and you will be reunited with your beautiful little boy. I love you so much. I am so glad that I married the man that is best friends with your husband.

    -Rachel, thank you for your words. They are so touching and full of comfort.

  19. You ladies are so wonderful ;) Thank God I have this blog! LOL!

  20. Elisabeth - you seem like an amazing person! It takes a lot of courage to share personal stories, but the reward of knowing that your experiences can touch the hears of others is an amazing thing to have as well. I look foward to reading more of your blog! I think the idea and inspiration behind it are amazing. =D


  21. You should totally Self Publish Elisa!! Your writing is amazing, as all the people who comment will vouch for. You have lived one amazing life and I think your courage, humour, intelligence needs to be shared with the world! Reading your blog has surely enriched my life, I have no doubt it should absolutly be shared with others!!


    P.s Love seeing the pics!!

  22. What a rich story and applications! This should be a book. Really.
    I enjoy your postings so much. They have great meaning to me.

  23. Mannnnn....I just lost the comment posted. Don't you hate it when you do that.

    Thanks for stopping by my site and leaving your more than kind comment.

    As for this post....I am speechless. You write very well, held my interest (which is a feat in itself) and it was a fascinating story. kt

  24. Wow... what a life you've had. Yep, definitely publish your work. I wanna read more!!!

  25. You have quite a story. I can't wait to read more! I would buy your book!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am your newest follower (sorry it took me so long).

  26. "Cade thinks I should write a memoir about Hawaii"
    I would love to read that. I come from the other side of the homeless community. Throughout the years of helping the homeless Marc and I have commented on how we should have had a journal about all the great people we met. If only a larger part of the world could realize that most of the homeless people are just like you and me...Everyone has a story. We only see a page. Love your writings. :-) You are truly amazing.

  27. Sorry about my slow commenting this week :( You've been through so much... would definitely read anything you write xoxo

  28. I read through this post and instantly started to try to find the actual book/author. If this is your story, I want to read much,much more! I hope you do publish and I will buy. Belle

  29. It makes for a good story, but the pragmatist in me cautions that you could have just as well been raped or murdered during this experience. God may have been looking after you, but good people die terribly every day. Would you recommend such action to your girls?

  30. Thank you all so much ;)

    I think I'd hit someone in the head with Gertie's billy club before they could even suggest something like this to my girls.

    It was awesome and fun, but I got lucky. I was still such a baby and now that I've grown up, I know how scary the world can be. I'm lucky I had Cade with me. I realized that one night when I got mad and tried leaving without him . . . it was a very scary experience.

    I'm glad I'm okay.


    P. S. I hope my girls will never read this post LOL! I worry they're too much like their wild Mama.