I arrived in LA on a wednesday. There was a hot breeze blowing across the tarmac as I got off the plane in Long Beach. I walked down the ramp and stood still waiting for my bag as I listened to the white noise of the airplane's engine and the banging of the baggage cart chains as the strong thick breeze blew them into the cart's metal frame as though they were waves beating along the coast. I didn't want to move, I wanted to ride this wave and enjoy this feeling while it lasted. This is where I wanted to be. My phone started to ring. It was my brother calling to let me know he was waiting for me in the front of the airport.
The reason I flew down to LA was to spend time with my friends, family and to work with the old man. My father runs an estate sale business that he has been running for about a decade now, but still has resisted the social norm and has not made a website or any other form of social media for his business. That is where I come in. My plan was to go down to LA, set him up with a few social media platforms, do a few test runs and then head back to Portland. To give you an idea of the challenge I was up against, let me put it to you this way: my father doesn't have any internet near or around him. We all have smart phones, he has a flip phone. My pops is old school. What we couldn't imagine life without, he prefers to live without. He easily manages living off the grid. Almost as a reflection of his personality. The man loves his solitude.
The first estate sale I worked was located in Sierra Madre and was mainly filled with little nicnac house hold items. There were a few hidden treasures, but nothing too out of the ordinary, but that didn't matter. An hour before opening on our first day, I peaked outside the door during our set up. There was a line waiting around the block! We made a lot of money from selling the contents of that house, but didn't manage to sell it all. My fathers responsibility with the realtors of these estates is to get rid of everything in the house. What does not sale he gives away to a few close contacts he has that picks up the left overs to be sold at a swap meet or down in Mexico... quite the operation.
That very same breeze of heat I was enjoying when I got off the plane was still present while we worked. For what seemed miserable to many shopping in that house, the 100+ degree heat was a nostalgic remedy for my soul, it was like growing up in LA all over again. The job seemed easy enough to me. I did what the old man told me to do, no questions asked. Lift this, lift that, go get this, go get that! After we finished the job he told me how great it felt to have somebody he could work with that makes his job so much easier. All the while I was thinking that the job was just that... easy. That was just the kid in me happy to be around the old man.
The next estate sale was the the big one! A house FULL of designer women's clothes, shoes and purses. This had to be a two weekend sale because of how much clothes were in this house. The first weekend my father sold only the furniture in the house to make room to put all the clothes out on display for the next sale. The lady who originally lived in the house LOVED to buy new things for herself! A lot of the things she bought she never even wore. We knew this because a lot of the clothes were still left in it's packaging or still had price tags. Designer clothes that originally cost $300, we were selling for $5. I had big plans for this estate sale and promoting it on social media. The idea was to get a few of my fashion bloggers to show up ahead of time, design outfits with the clothes at the sale and then blog the idea of how you can make a fashion statement based on inexpensive shopping at estate sales. Then blast it on the inter webs and promote our social media platforms by a chain of connected blogs by prominent SoCal fashion bloggers. One of them being http://www.windyistheweather.com (hey girl!). This never happened, I lost focus amongst the fast stressful pace of Los Angeles. I had been working so much throughout the week and a half that I never took out my Nikon to take pictures, it was making me depressed. I wanted to have some youthful fun! To stop myself from falling any deeper I had told my pops I couldn't work the estate sale that weekend because I had agreed to do family portraits for my brother and his family (Not to mention the quality time with friends sprinkled in there). My father understood where I was coming from and made sure he had somebody to cover. I had my sister take over the coverage of the estate sale on our social media platforms... this is family business. @suncatestatesales
Unfortunately, Saturday rolls around and an hour before the shoot. My brother and his family back out for reasons I wont write about. They got cold feet. It wasn't until an hour before plans I had on Sunday that I got a call from my brother asking me if I could still do the photoshoot before I leave back to Portland the next day. Yes they did back out on me, yes I lost out on making some extra cash, yes I did back out on my father, BUT they are my family too, so you are damn right I did the photoshoot for them.
Later that evening I met back up with my father at his house. He had just finished the big estate sale full of clothes and I had just finished a day of shooting... we were both exhausted from work. My father more so because of the house he just entirely cleared out. We didn't say much to each other as we hung out as his house, he in his room and me in the living room. Time passes on and there is still not a word exchanged, I think back to how exhausting his work day must of been. I know what is happening.
Among many health disorder my father has, one of them is diabetes. Some days he works too hard and wont stick to what is suppose to be a strict eating routine. To make it worse, he also has Addison's Diseases ( a disease in which the body doesn't produce adrenaline). He has to work double hard. When you or me lift something heavy our body produces a certain hormone to give us that extra boost of strength, my father's body doesn't have that. On the days he over works, his exhausted body will catch up with him later a night, trying to recover, causing his blood sugar to drop. He has two diseases that counter each other. I know this because this is what I grew up with. There have been many nights as a child waking up to paramedics scrambling through our house to snap my pops out of an episode of low blood sugar. This was the price my father had to pay for working hard in order to raise his family in LA.
Remembering my past experiences, I walk into his room, he is sitting on the floor in a daze. Not to alarm him or myself I begin to ask him questions about his day to see if he is still present. He is out of it. If you haven't dealt with someone who has low blood sugar it is very difficult because they become stubborn. I know I am in for a fight to pull him out of it. I begin to hear keys opening the front door to the house. It's his girlfriend. Some how she knew too, out of her gut instinct, that his blood sugar was low. We spent the remainder of our evening bringing his blood sugar back to normal, sitting there in his room talking.
The next morning he dropped me off at the train station to begin my journey back to Portland, where spending quality time with those that I love and grew up with in LA only exist within the memories of my imagination.