This is my March 2017 ActiveRain Contest #3 entry for:
March 2017 challenge, Tell me the most unique or special place you have lived? by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, Broker, Tacoma Washington
The most unique home I’ve ever lived in was my car, in the parking lot of my high school.
I was homeless for a few weeks at age 16-17, my senior year. I left a mostly mentally abusive situation, some physical, for fear of what it was doing to me and what I was becoming as a result of it. It was not a planned departure, so I spent a few weeks living in my car in my high school parking lot. I still went to school, I still went to work at Safeway Grocery Store after school...but I went to bed in the back of a 1977 Ford Pinto Wagon at night, weird.
My best friend Dean N., parked next to me so he'd wrap on the window of my car to wake me up for class. Gym was first period, so my shower was covered and I got out of school by 1 p.m. so I had time before my 3 p.m. shift at work to do my homework. (Dean N. would later in life share, “I wish I’d invited you to live at my home, I don’t know what I was thinking back then to not have offered.”)
A grand adventure for a teen; aside from always being cold at night (I used to drive to Happy Donuts at 3 a.m. and by 2 Old Fashions and a large Hot Chocolate for warmth), I wasn't scared, I was too pissed off at everything back then and determined to make it on my own to be scared. My parents were divorced when I was 2 yrs. and my step dad died when I was 11 yrs. No, I was scared too, there was no thought put into this decision, I just knew it was better here in my car than at home. Home was middle class America too, an outsider would say I had it made and to some degree, I did. Ah, the fear of judgment. But, why then was living in my car the choice I made, if life was so good?
Serra High School (home of Tom Brady) where I slept for a few weeks.
The grand plan came crashing down one cold San Mateo March morning when the knock on my car window to wake me was not my buddy Dean, it was a different “dean”, the Dean of Men from my school-the disciplinarian! Ooops.
“Nelson, what the hell are you doing sleeping in your car?”
I told him the whole story and he just stared at me, then with a big sigh said “hit the showers then come to my office, skip gym, I'll write you a pass.”
The result of my meeting with the Dean of Men was, they would not further involve my mom under the circumstances, but I had to find a family member or friend to take me in...no more sleeping in my car at school.
I ended up calling my Dad's parents, my grandparents lived ¼ mile from my school and work, it would be a perfect place to finish school, but we were a bit estranged since my parent’s divorce.
Here’s where I learned the power of the pop-by gift: The dean told me to buy them a gift (I bought a potted plant) and go ask them to let you live with them until graduation, which was only 4 months away.
I did, they did and voila, I went from sleeping in the back of a 1977 Ford Pinto Station Wagon to sleeping in my own room in a beautiful home and neighborhood.
I often credit my school and my grandparents for keeping me on track so I could graduate. It was a tumultuous time of my life that got a little better for about 6 months as it turned out.
Would I go back, no! But, no regrets either. I’ll never forget the lessons it taught me. I found out what I was willing to do to improve my situation too; to not be a victim, rather to be a victor.
This is my Office, directly shot from the driveway of my HOA...short commute!
The most special place I’ve lived is where I live know, in La Jolla Mesa Estate, within University Towne Centre (UTC) where La Jolla, University City and Sorrento Valley Mesa meet on the map. I moved here to get away from the “ever changing for the grind” Bay Area, a vindictive ex-wife and a fresh start for my new marriage. I knew if I wanted my life to change, I needed to leave my native hometown; I needed to be away from the co-dependency of a toxic family dynamic too, which hadn’t changed much from the Ford Pinto days.
I left to save my life from the fear of change…so I plunged into change.
I moved here, to UTC San Diego. University Towne Centre is adjacent to UCSD and La Jolla, CA
A view of UTC and the Lower left corner of "The Golden Triangle".
I’ve never loved a home more than here because I started my life over here in 2003 with my new bride; a new marriage, new broker, new city where I knew NOBODY and it was the first time I’ve ever purchase a home the “traditional way”. All previous were seller financing, hard money and rent to own.
I love my nature filled hillside views, where rabbits play and the occasional deer or coyote run through. I love that I walk to work and I’m central to 4 freeways for commuting to appointments. I love that I’m 10 minutes to La Jolla Shores and have a dozen hiking trails to choose from, just outside my door.
This is the view we enjoy out of 80% of our windows!
I cherish the friends I’ve made here because it’s so much harder to make friends in your 30’s and 40’s than your teens and 20’s. I’m proud of the risk I took and the challenges I faced by relocating just in time to go through the Great Depreciation of 2006-2011. The fear of the Ford Pinto motivated me to become a short-sale expert! I built a new business, a new life and really energized my new marriage here. I love living in America’s Finest City. If I ever left her, I would return to her indeed. I'm proud to be far from the "Pinto days", living in America's Finest City, I'll never forget what I overcame to be here and I give thanks for my blessings every day!
San Diego is the best place on Earth for me to call home for now. One day I fancy living part time in Italy, but that will be for another post in the December contest.