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  • by october of 2009 my mom and i hadnt paid the mortgage on the house for about a year. she was a real estate agent and i was in community college.

    pride and hope kept my mom from leaving the agency she was working with, as one sale would easily pay off a few months mortgage and maybe a little debt. there were no sales, just lots of pretend ones.

    i drove 35 miles to school every morning and 35 miles back. i didnt mind the drive. the area has some of the most beautiful scenery in all california. morning mist veiled the large oaks that speckled the side of the highway every morning, as the open fields of color seemed visible for miles. some days felt like as if driving through monet's haystacks.

    i tried to stay on campus as long as the sun was up. large palm trees and spanish style red tile roofs shaded the green lawns, making for perfect places to relax in between classes and after volleyball practice. but i always looked forward to getting home.
    almost every night was as predictable as the one before. a trader joe's light beer and watching cnn with mom.
    it was comfortable and we enjoyed just being around each other.

    the phone began to ring a lot more, and we began to answer it less. don't answer it, it's the bank. this went on for a while.

    listening to a friends suggestion we put our house up on a vacation rental website. it was good money and fast money they said.
    our house and location quickly became quite the popular attraction.
    mostly people from LA. they would come up for wine tasting. some people from the east coast for bachelorette parties. it was always fun to see who would want to stay in our house.
    they always seemed to have a lot of money.

    everything and anything we owned at this time was shoved into a large lockable closet or went into our cars. cleaning the house before and after people came was always a full day of work. they didnt know we still technically lived in the house.

    my mom and i would go camping when the people were set to arrive.

    we left with her car packed with clothing, books, lawn chairs, an ice chest of food drinks and trader joes light beer, and a tent. and our dog Joey and two cats.

    i thankfully had a 4-runner at the time that we could also fill with any miscellaneous items we would need. i kept all my textbooks and volleyball gear in this car at all times.

    our camp site was in morro bay strand, an ocean-side national park just a little north of the city of morro bay, about a 45 minute drive from our house.
    it was beautiful and cheap and had close mexican food. we always got the same spot. the side next to the dunes. 39. you could see and smell and hear the ocean at all times. everything was unpacked onto the wooden picnic table or the tent that my mom always slept in. we got to know the park rangers pretty well.

    most people came to stay for the weekend, so i could study art history and sunbathe. it was a wonderful time.

    nights were cold, but we always found wood for a fire. as the sun went down over the pacific ocean, our plastic cups of white wine and hot chicken shish kabobs brought the beginning of great conversations. we would both notice some of the absurdities of our situation and laugh. my mother's alikeness to lucille ball would also bring me falling to the sand in laughter on most nights. later in the night we would sit in lawn chairs around the fire pit and talk. or stare at the stars and listen to the crashing waves. i learned a lot about my mom these nights.

    I decided I needed to make art and painting my life on one of these nights.

    i slept in the back of my 4-runner with one of the cats and lots of blankets. i fell asleep most nights looking at the stars through the back side window and listening to the rhythm of the wave sets. occasionally hearing my mom whispering rather loudly hey hey goodnight...goodnight...joey says goodnight too...

    i always replied back.

    mornings were bacon and eggs on a propane stove, sand in our feet, and a trip to the public bathroom to wash up.

    some people stayed for 5 nights. i would drive down south on the 1 from morro bay to cuesta college in about 10 minutes. being on the volleyball team i could use the nice showers in the locker rooms to shower and change. sometimes i overslept and didnt have time.

    i tried to stay on campus as long as the sun was up.
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