June recap part 2. Continuing to share my first month in the van. Part 2 of 3 begins June 21st as I wake up for my first day in San Diego:
June 21: Two other vandwellers were waking up with me in Denny’s parking lot this morning. One left before me and the other was prepping to leave as I took off. They definitely weren’t there when I crawled in the van last night, but it was strangely comforting to see them there this morning.
Mission Point San Diego was my destination today and it did not disappoint. I walked a lot, relaxed on various benches, watched the boats for extended periods of time, and just chilled. I had no agenda for the day and I liked it. Was a nice break from the hectic few months and days of final preparations that brought me here.
It was overcast/hazy all day with a nice cool breeze. It only reached 74. Considerably more pleasant that Mesa, AZ where I started from yesterday. After a very relaxing and uneventful first day, I headed to my sleep spot and called it a day.
June 22: When I got cleaned up, I drove back to Mission Point to plan my day. Shortly after I arrived and rolled down my windows, a police car pulled up right beside me. A well put together woman exited the front passenger seat and beelined to a man on the other side of me, fumbling in the trunk of his car. I heard her asking him if he needed help, support, food, or a shower, then offering some resources. In the meantime, a smiling police officer emerged from behind the wheel, while another man emerged from the back. The woman, I soon discovered, was a homeless advocate who was also a vehicle dweller. The man from the back was a social worker.
When the woman finished talking to the man and came back toward the patrol car, the social worker crossed his arms and began to interrogate her about her lifestyle. “Let me ask you a question…” he started, innocently. His demeanor and tone soon became undeniably condescending. He insinuated something was wrong with her because she CHOSE to live in her SUV. He told her multiple times she would be a more effective advocate for the homeless if she had an actual home to live in. (I thought the way she was doing it was was probably pretty effective, definitely more relatable, and without question, she was more available. But hey, that’s just me)
Remaining calm and rational, she replied to his questions articulately and with intelligence. She even shared several resources that mitigated her need for a home or office. More than once the police officer spoke up in support of the woman, but the social worker wasn’t convinced. It was a little shocking. Perhaps it’s me, but I generally expect to see compassion and empathy in someone whose career is social work. All I saw from him was shaming, judgment, and an expectation for her to conform to his notion of how to live.
I was impressed at how well the woman held her own with the social worker so, as they began to leave, I called out to the woman. I told her I appreciated what she did for the community and I thought she had a lovely spirit. Her face lit up as she stepped back toward me and the van, throwing her arms right in my window to hug me. “Second hug of the day! You’re on a roll!” the officer announced, smiling broadly. (I liked him) The social worker rolled his eyes but forced a smile. (for him, I imagine this was progress)
Once they had gone, I headed out for supplies and ran some errands. It was definitely hotter and sunnier in San Diego today, but I managed to stay out of it. Even spent a few hours at Starbucks writing before heading back to the comfort of the San Diego Bay for the evening and overnight.
June 23: Woke up to a beautiful day and had some fruit and oatmeal for breakfast. Just as I was getting ready to leave, the woman from yesterday showed up. I watched her confidently walk the sidewalk in her flowing blue and white sundress, jewelry flashing in the sun, smiling and speaking to everyone she passed. Just as I was about to wave at her, she noticed me. A warm smile crossed her face as she picked up her pace and headed my way.
I spoke to Linda for nearly an hour. I learned a little about her life (and losses) and why, instead of a house or apartment, she chooses to live in her SUV (when not occasionally housesitting). She is an interesting mix of intense magnetism, free spirited wild child, and a whole lot of rebel. Linda’s ties to this area include volunteer work, friends, family, and grown children, right here in San Diego. She recently turned 60 years old and has a good laugh at the reaction she gets when telling people she’s ‘homeless’. Definitely an interesting character.
Just before Linda left, a fancy, loud, and expensive sports car rolled up behind me. Severals cars followed and the occupants emerged chattering about the haze and lack of sun. There were 3 photographers, 4 beautiful young models, and too many business people to count. I watched them for a while, but when the photographers began looking at my van like a ladder they wanted to climb for a better shot, I realized it was time to go.
I got to the gym, signed up, and took a blissfully long shower. Afterward, I ventured to Denny’s for another $2 Quesadilla (not terribly healthy I know) and took advantage of their wifi for a little while.
It was almost 5 PM when I headed for the spot I would be staying overnight (recommended by Linda for the view). Linda was there with her friend Jewell. We chatted for a while before we said goodnight. I walked until dusk, then crawled into the van for the night.
I was lulled to sleep by the dozen sailboats, moored for the night, gently dancing on the water. Occasionally, a larger ship would pass by (heading in from, or out to, sea), creating a wake of waves that would crash against the rocks in front of me. Yeah, I’m really loving summer in San Diego.
I still have more of June to share before I begin posting current content. Stay tuned for part 3 of 3!