Monday, October 29, 2012

How to be a Homeless Street Musician

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 are so young compared to me (actually, EVERYBODY is!) & you have lived through SO much! You are an old soul in a young body. I'm glad you have the ability to write about it so well!!

  2. Dear Elisa, like fishducky, I believe youi have "an old soul in a young body." I so look forward to reading your book when it's published. Peace.

  3. These are my thoughts as well. You have so much to say, it is good that you started early!

  4. Yeah you have sure been through the ringer and back. Never knew rich people actually faked being poor. LMAO damn you could have passed for Rudolph, dogs might have mistaken you for a fire hydrate, lol had too, sure it hurt big time though, crappy sun burns.

  5. Hawaii is a beautiful place. Our son lives there and no matter how many Tsunami scares he gets, he does not want to move out.
    Congrats kiddo, I am so happy for you. Writing a book must make you feel very special.

  6. I love the cover. Zeke did not die because you ran away. I PROMISE you that old lady was wrong.


  7. I guess if I had to be homeless Hawaii would be the best place to pick. The experiences you had shaped you into the person you are today, and you're a pretty special one. :)

  8. Your writing is always nice and interesting to read, Elisa.
    The first pic that appear on my blog homeline grab my attention too with the title.

    I felt sympathy for such kind of old religious woman. Their ignorance sometimes influences others lol
    Many people had died even people younger than your lovely son Zeke, for everyone will die on earth, sooner or later.

    Now, we learned that we must be awake at night on such places and situation.
    Great post! I'm glad to connect with you.

  9. You can learn a lot living on the streets. I only did it one summer (1969) and had no way to earn money. People were kind and bought me burgers once in a while so I usually ate once every 2-3 days. (They were much more generous with alcohol and pills than food--LOL!) I slept in the park during the day and wandered the streets all night long. In the middle of the night almost the only people awake were drunks and druggies--at that time they were mostly young and a lot of runaways. I learned, too, not to judge a book by it's cover. We may be from different generations, but we have some things in common. This is on my list of books I want to read. Best of luck, lady!! :)