Author: Jason Gentile
Neighborhood: San Diego
Occupation: Musician/Graphic Designer
Okay, here’s the deal: I don’t really have a neighborhood. A description of my general place of residence would look something like this: Pacific Ocean, San Diego, CA. Yes, really. I would tell you the exact part of the bay — and which one — I live in, if it weren’t for the fact that residing in a boat (renting it like an apartment) is now illegal in San Diego.
Six months ago, when I found myself hard up for cash and losing a financially crucial (yet annoyingly snobbish) roommate in North Park, I asked some friends to ask some friends about a cheap and decent place to live in this gilded town. Turned out that a friend of a friend of a cousin had a brother-in-law that had a boat docked here in SD and was thinking about renting options. I threw in my hat, and here I am, bobbing in the bay.
My sea legs have become semi-permanent, yet the 150 dollars a month it costs me is quite worth the adjustment. I make sure my presence is low-key around the docks, so as to prevent any boat owners from being tempted to alert the authorities. I also have to keep the favor of local security personnel. Typically a six-pack or a bottle of tequila does the trick. The biggest downfall is the showering and bathroom situation: public. It may be a bit disgusting at times — and it is — but I’ve got my system down now.
You see, this is no yacht I’m renting. It’s a 20-foot sailboat. Aside from a minuscule monthly payment, my responsibility is to keep it clean. That’s it. My dining room is Robertos (or any prefix “-ertos”) taco shop. My living room is the nearest coffee shop — where my bathroom usually is, too. At times I feel half-civilized, half-pirate, and half-secret agent, which I guess makes me one and a half persons? That’s kinda how I feel, even as I write this. One foot in the modern So-Cal world, and one in an aquatic, semi-homeless “other.”
This space can be both freeing and imprisoning at times. It can be downright alienating and lonely some days. Yet with a good book and a trooper of a girlfriend, this place is paradise — minus the exorbitant San Diego price tag. Each day I step off land and look back at the lights. Here’s the simple truth I see from my saltwater shelter: In this world — in this town — it seems to be the prices that are far more entrapping than a small boat could ever be. So my little slice of freedom has been to choose to live on a little boat. And although I am certainly not innocent in the biblical sense, I am no criminal either. Even though I am apparently breaking a law by sleeping here, my only crime is that I’m one step from homelessness and two from complete conformity...I think.