Monday, September 16, 2013

When I Lived in My Car While Working for Vampires

Nothing feels better than getting off of a fourteen hour shooting day, stretching your muscles as you wander past the sets to your car, droopy eyes ready to sleep, and curl up in the backseat to pass out in the wave of blankets forming your bed.

I worked on Season 6 of True Blood this past year, and within the first month of my 60-hour per week gig as an office PA, I was living out of my car again on the lot where I slogged each day.

Honestly, it was the perfect scenario.

The Lot on Santa Monica and La Brea was my very own commune where I would eat, shower, curl my hair, do my laundry, relax, listen to music, and sleep. Imagine a gritty western town with only one sheriff who enjoys reading poetry whilst hiding on the fire escape in the parking structure to avoid the security guards.

C'est moi.

Being 20 at the time, no landlord would rent me an apartment even though I was well off with cash (HBO is a jackpot) and had a steady job. So in result, I returned to the safe haven that was my Ford Focus.

My backseat was the bedroom as well as storage, the trunk was overflowing with possessions that I collected since my move to LA, and the front seat was where I stashed food and water and books (gotta have books, cars don't come with wifi)

Fortunately, being a PA I was fed at least two meals each day, so it was only on weekends when I would scavenge for food. I lived off of apples, cheese, and trail mix for about two weeks straight. The term "will work for food" was thematically accurate.

Working overnights was common (vampires and whatnot) and that left me alone in the office to do my laundry in the costumes department, scrounge up the left over food from the day to munch on, and even take a shower next to the janitor's closet while we waited for the call sheet to distro. My co-workers never caught on, but when I came into work early one day (I was there anyways, might as well) wearing the same shirt, my boss mentioned it. "Too busy to change your clothes. That's the set life." She joked. I chuckled with my reply "Yup. I'm sleeping in my car too."

The security guards, who were present all night long and into the morning, didn't even question why I had a towel wrapped around my hair as I scuttled back to my car, or why on Saturday mornings I would be leaving the lot without having arrived first.

I parked on the 6th floor of the parking structure, where they kept all of the prop and stunt cars, and tucked my car between the dusty transpo vans. At night, or sometimes in the morning, when I would fall asleep, I felt safe and secure in my camouflage as the security guards mindlessly patrolled the permitters.  

Eventually, after almost two months of being a "car person" again, I managed to sublet a room on the other side of town. I became so used to the lifestyle and the freedom again that for a few days after, I would still curl up in the backseat and cover myself with blankets, disguised as fluffy bedding.

Those two months reinstalled my cravings for freedom and the challenges of living in my car. It gave me time to reflect on my homeless years as a child, proving to myself that I was still capable of overcoming such an obstacle without asking for help. I see how fortunate it was, as most people who are homeless or live out of their cars don't have the resources in which I had access. When I told my friend about it, all she could say was "I could've never survived that."

- The Diligent Gypsy

(My morning view from the parking structure)

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