Testing the waters in Santa Barbara….
And so I had moved into yet another home on my journey. I was excited to step into the daily life of another individual. It always amazes me how different and yet the same we are all over the country. The setup in this scenario was a tad bit unusual but it made it all the more of an interesting experience. Justin’s parents owned a house in a small town outside of Santa Barbara named Carpinteria. Their home was situated on a long driveway with two plots of land behind it. The first plot of land had two guest houses on it, one of which was rented out to a local girl and the other one was inhabited by his younger sister and her fiancée. The second plot of land had a three car garage that Justin was in the process of converting into a home. It turns out this is actually a pretty common thing in SoCal, as well as converting trailers and storage units as the cost of owning housing is down-right ridiculous.
He had replaced the roof and installed a toilet and a shower. He built himself a bed and shelving units. There was a dresser, a table and chair, and a couch which became my bed. When I arrived I helped him set up a kitchenette area consisting of pots hanging from twisted wire, a coffee pot, and a propane powered stove. Water had to be collected from his sister’s kitchen next door. It was simple but it was cozy and I instantly felt right at home. We frequently discussed how close we had become so quickly in our time traveling together. He had just had a falling out with his best friend at home and for me this was the longest period of time anyone had been a part of my life since I hit the road. It felt just as natural as moving in with my best friends back home.
The first few days I was in town he procrastinated getting back to work. We picked right back up where we had left off both times before… beaches, hiking, beer, and green on the daily. However we both knew this could not last this time as he had to get back to his company and I needed to find a way to get some cash and get back to following my intentions with my journey. He had told me of several connections he had for me: work on a farm, work with a restoration company planting trees, assisting his neighbor who was starting an essential oil business, helping him with demoing a barn for his carpentry business.
Peculiarly enough after I had traversed all the way down there, eating up all my resources and dropping all my potential plans to do so, he began to slowly reveal that none of these connections actually existed. He knew these people with these businesses, but he never actually checked if they had work for me. And so he took me with to demo the barn but ended up screwing himself over on the deal and not making any profit… therefore I made no profit as well.
I was okay with it though. I’m sure he had nothing but good intentions, and demoing the barn wasn’t that bad. Some of it was actually kind of fun and I learned quite a bit. I began applying for every job I could but I wasn’t hearing back from anyone.
“What else can I do?” I thought to myself. I began to wonder what I would do if I was back home and in a pinch for cash. The first thought that came to my mind wasn’t a feasible option in this scenario. The second thought that came to my mind was actually quite useful.
I was diagnosed as a kid with a skin disease that prescribed medicine never really used to help. One year while attending Peace Fest in Chicago I encountered my first ever hippie. He was doing body painting and I wanted a peace sign on my shoulder. He noticed my psoriasis and I will never forget the way he explained his solution to me.
“You gotta bust open a whole bunch of fish oil pills and get all that oil out from inside. Then mash up some garlic and mix it all together and spread it all over those patches. Oh, it’ll really piss them off! Wrap yourself in a sheet your prepared to throw away and sleep one night like that and those patches will get so pissed off they’ll up and go away. It’ll be great.”
At the time I had no concept of alternative, natural, or folk medicine. I’m not sure I really even knew what a hippie was nonetheless the slightest thing about the counter culture. (Boy have I come full circle) My friend and I went home and were cracking up about this encounter as we told my dad his crazy advice.
“Those hippies know what they’re talking about. I bet it would work.”
My friend and I glanced at each other and both instantly started rummaging the cabinets and the fridge. To our surprise we were able to find both ingredients… and it worked. And so to manage my psoriasis, and now my well-being in general, I began to make all my own herbal medicine, body products, house-hold cleaners, laundry detergent, and so on. Anything that comes in contact with me is made by me.
If I was back home in search of quick cash, I would try to talk friends and family into buying tea blends and other hand crafted products from me. Within two days I was sitting at a farmer’s market selling herbal shampoo, a rose skin softening oil, bars of soap shaped like sea shells, lip balm, and a nasal decongestant.
The farmer’s market committee told me I was the first person to ever sell on my first day. (hint: check the blog soon for a page where you can purchase these products along with other medicinal products and services!) I went home excited to tell my friend the good news. He however didn’t seem too enthused. He must have had a bad day I deduced.
But as the days went on his mood seemed to suffer more and more. I slowly began to see what was going on. The person I met in Oregon was his truest form of himself. He had no one to impress, no deadlines to meet, and no standard to be held to or history to be judged against. Here at home he had quite the opposite scenario.
He was dealing with things I can’t even imagine going through with his family that I am not comfortable touching on here. He was dealing with the fact that his younger sister was getting married and establishing a life. He was unhappy with his living situation. He was frustrated with the uncertainties that come with starting a business. He was unbearably hard on himself in all aspects of his daily life. And he was searching for a more rewardable aspect of his career than he was receiving momentarily. It was understandable that he was frustrated and unhappy.
I tried relentlessly to lighten his mood. I tried to shed some positive light on his situation and bring to his awareness how hard he was being on himself and that getting a business off the ground isn’t an easy thing to do alone. But he had people in his life that he wanted to obtain approval from and unfortunately there was no seeing around that, even if it would cost him his happiness. I decided to leave it alone and simply treat it as a roommate situation instead of engaging a friendship until I could back on my feet and get back to traveling. He had offered me to stay a couple of months so I figured I would work for a month saving up and then be on my way.
However within days it began to become clear that he was no longer happy with this living arrangement. He began to become demanding and condescending toward me and it was starting to feel like an unhealthy situation. I fully oblige to doing any chores, cleaning, cooking or really anything requested of me when staying in someone’s home because it is truly the very least I can do to show my gratitude at their generosity for sharing their space with me. However he began to really take advantage of this and in a truly impolite way.
He also began to seem really upset at any positive experience I had or anything that moved me towards establishing myself. He was not enthused when I sold my herbal products, he showed no excitement when I told him I met travelers from Albania at the beach, and he almost seemed angry when I told him of the girls I made friends with who were au pairing in town from Poland, Germany, and Switzerland. He even went as far as to insult them and suggest I not meet up with them the next day like I had planned.
This was really off putting and definitely not the person I had become such great friends with over the last couple of months. I called an old friend from back home to hash over the situation with him and get an outside perspective. He told me from his point of view it sounded like this guy figured he could lure me down there with the promise of a comfy spot to post up for a while and a lucrative and rewarding gig thinking that he could use me, as I would be relying pretty heavily on him in this situation especially seeing as there was no gig to create a means for me to get back on my feet and out doing my own thing again. However when he realized that I was not that easily persuaded and saw me taking steps to establish myself without relying on him he became frustrated and started being rude to get me to leave.
I sincerely hope this wasn’t the case. Seeing as he contacted me a few times over those next few days to make sure I was doing okay I assume it is not. However it is a very real possibility and I’ll truly never know. I suppose that is a reality I have to face with strangers who become friends on the road.
I really wanted to take off and go explore a new city where I could start fresh but I knew the right thing to do was to stick around and take advantage of the market to save up some cash. I did stick around for a while, and I sure am glad I did! However I only managed to save a small amount of money that would be completely used up on my voyage to my next adventure up in the Emerald Triangle.
But we’ll get to that later….