And to think that after 11 years I was finally starting to get used to Pedro.

The Fultons are moving.  It’s a complicated and happy tale, but it’s also one filled with some anguish and a bucket full of life lessons.  So yes, we are in the process of moving out of the house we have called home for a good long time.  It seems like only yesterday that our agent walked us through the place and in between describing every nook and cranny of the place as “lovely,” he mentioned that one of the two master bedrooms would be a great place for kids.

Right.  You mean the kids we aren’t planning on having?

Interesting how life tends to work out, huh?  We went from not planning to expand the family beyond Sam and myself to having a beautiful little girl and a prince of a little dude.  All in Pedro.  The hood.  The docks.

The temptation is to say that San Pedro is a mean place, but for the families who have called Pedro home for multiple generations, it is a tiny seaport town that is awesome for raising a family and a source of pride for all the hard-working blue-collar types who love the place.  The temptation is to say that Pedro never embraced or accepted us, but the reality is that we never gave the place much of a chance.  Pretty much everything we do as a family is outside the city of San Pedro, and even though Emily’s school is literally down the street and within walking distance, technically it is located in Rancho Palos Verdes.  If we lived across the street we would have called RPV our city of residence, but no, we live in Pedro.

So that’s where I find myself at this odd, early morning hour.  I just returned from a vacation that consisted mostly of moving some stuff into our new place in Torrance and doing lots of yard work in the backyard of the new house, and even though I should be sleeping, I’m wide awake at 3 AM.  Funny that it has taken me all this time to appreciate the quiet that is San Pedro in the hours just before dawn.  In the tranquility of the early morn I can hear only the faint sounds of the work being done down on the docks.  It makes me think of Phil, Joe and Steve.  These hard-working longshoremen represent Pedro well.  Their families have deep roots in the city and they have stories to tell.  I’ve heard more than a few of these stories.  Some of them are quite scary, but others are heartwarming, perhaps even charming.  These guys have rough hands and strong shoulders, somewhat emblematic of the dock worker.  They also have a cheerful optimism that sometimes surprises me because as I mentioned, Pedro can seem like an angry town, yet here are these rough, gruff guys with smiles on their faces and a cheerful disposition.

There was a time when I hated San Pedro.  I hated the constant presence of police helicopters flying overhead, and I hated the times when we would dine in a Pedro restaurant with the fear that our car was being broken into out in the parking lot.  I hated going to the parks and seeing playground equipment covered in gang graffiti.  I hated the traffic.

But at some point the hate started to fade.

You see, somewhere between the choppers, fear and graffiti emerged my heart for the city.  I finally started to recognize that “Pedro Pride” wasn’t some sort of long-running inside joke. 

There was Violet who cut my hair and loved San Pedro, and our handyman Joe who pretty much knows the entire history of the city, and then there were several families who attended church with our family who not only called Pedro their city of residence, but they adored the place.  I started to look at San Pedro through their eyes and finally began to realize that this was our home.

I’m listening to the rhythmic rat-a-tat-tat of the sprinklers outside dousing the greenbelt and it’s making me appreciate the set-up we have here.  Thick trees, pretty flowers and lush green grass have all been carefully tended to by the gardeners who work tirelessly each and every day in our townhouse community.  Their efforts over the years have been nothing short of miraculous, as they somehow managed to keep our little slice of paradise looking fairly amazing even when we endured some long, hot summers under strict watering restrictions.

Five years ago the gardeners transplanted a tiny tree into a shady area in front of our place.  They braced it with some rope and a stake.  At the time we wondered if they were crazy and assumed this thing had no chance to survive the heat, let alone grow into anything substantial.  Right around that same time our family was enduring some fairly serious financial hardships, and after speaking to some trusted advisors, we put in place a 5-year plan that was to result in two rather lofty goals:  To move into a larger home and to rid ourselves of all credit card debt.

Something tells me that the little tree probably heard us hatching the plan and scoffed at us the way we did at him.

Five years later finds the Fultons not carrying any credit card debt, and through the wonderful mercies of God’s amazing handiwork – absolutely no credit to us whatsoever – we are moving into a bigger house with a backyard that will provide the kids with a place to play.

Five years later finds our little tree standing nearly eight feet tall and sporting some healthy, colorful leaves.

Way to go little guy!

So San Pedro, I apologize for my animosity.  I thank you for the tough love you’ve delivered over the years.  I thank you for being our home – the only home our kids have known – for a significant chapter of our lives.  And while this is goodbye I want you to know that in this early morning hour when I should be sleeping, I’m instead enjoying the splendor of this quiet time – Pedro Time – and I’m loving every second of it.

Wish I would’ve done it more often.