The year I lived with my cousin Cherry, right smack in the middle of Hollywood, was a year of many firsts and it left an indelible mark on my unsure swagger into adulthood.  Cherry is nothing if not original, and her uniqueness touches everything she does; from what clothes to wear to whom she brings home for an impromptu jam session at 3am, so it’s no wonder that my sister and I gave each other exasperated looks when she brought Rocky home.

Not only did the three of us live together but we also worked together, in a hip & chaotic cafe in Hollywood, a recipe for surefire family spats if ever there was one.  Luckily, we had the good sense to work opposite shifts and so it was that we got a 1st hand account of how Rocky came into our lives from the cafe night manager before Cherry had brought him home.

Our cafe was located on an especially busy LA street corner, right off the 101 and I’d witnessed more than a few accidents in that very intersection.  So, on that lazy summer evening when Rocky first made his appearance, when a pickup truck, crusin’ down the street hit a bump and lost some of its’ cargo, the last thing I would have done is run into the intersection to grab him.  That may sound callous and cowardly but Rocky wasn’t something cuddly and cute, he didn’t conjure up precious childhood memories of a long-lost beloved pet. He was a rooster. Something people put out in their yards and sometimes ate.  Yet there was Cherry, weaving in and out of traffic, chasing a rooster down Cahuenga Blvd.

She did eventually get him out of the street, into a box and all the way home to our apartment.  There, my sisters’ and I’s two ornery cats sat diligently outside Cherry’s room in the hopes that Rocky would somehow conquer the fortress of boxes and pillows that Cherry had used to blockade her doorless bedroom and fall down into their feline clutches.  Needless to say, Cherry eventually realized that a Hollywood apartment, with two fat cats and three hygienic girls, was no place for a rooster and she drove him out to a farm in the valley where he would be free to roam about with no fears of ever being eaten.

Cherry took the loss of Rocky hard and though we only had him a week, I learned then, that when a thing touches you, be it a person, a place or a rooster, it can be hard to let it go.  One thing’s struggle can be another’s freedom and often in life, as with so much else, it is the choices we make, when to let go and when to hold on, which defines us.