This is straight out of a teen movie! Dad goes out of town for a week, leaves the kids cash and a car and the keys to the house. The first night he's gone, they throw a house party. Within hours of her dad's plane leaving, fourteen year old Jennifer is drunk and making out with a high school senior on her dad's bed! This is exactly what most parents think will happen if they leave their kids home alone! Except for Jennifer's dad, I don't know what he was thinking...
In addition to that, Jennifer wasn't even clear on exactly where her dad was. He was in Utah or "some place like that." Like what? Some place far away? I guess it didn't matter. Gone is gone. Jennifer and Daniel fed themselves, got themselves to high school every day and did their homework all on their own.
Jennifer vividly remembers attending San Mateo High School. It is a beautiful brick building located in the town of San Mateo. Jennifer was overwhelmed by the freedom the school facilitated. It was walking distance from homes and shops. A lot of kids walked home for lunch (and never came back!) or drove to get fast food.
The year-round moderate California climate made it easy to come and go by foot. Jennifer was used to Alaska. Her high school there was a converted and secluded prison building. There was nowhere to go on foot. It was dark, icy and freezing cold most of the school year anyway. She ate indoors. There was nothing to tempt her to leave the campus.
Jennifer was intimidated by the independence of the students at San Mateo High. Also, she wasn't exposed to drug use in Alaska (not that it wasn't happening). In California, wine coolers and pot were abundant. Maybe it was because she was now hanging out with an older crowd. Her brother was a junior. She hung out with him and his friends. They carpooled with Allen and Luke most mornings. In Alaska, she had been the oldest. Now she was the baby.
Jennifer had been craving a boyfriend for a long time. Chris fit the bill. She loved how he made her feel. He paid her a lot of attention. Jennifer lived in her own world. It was intoxicating to have someone who wanted to be with her, take care of her and get to know her private thoughts. And he didn't treat her like a child. He also didn't try to go any further with her than making out. She was ecstatic. Chris will go down in history as Jennifer's first boyfriend, but not as her first love. That title belongs to someone else...
San Mateo High school was torn down in 2001 and an earthquake-safe replica was finished in 2005.