Hello Red Bat fans and visitors – Patrick here. I don’t post much here because, frankly, Rebecca is scary good at writing blog posts, and it’s a little intimidating. I’ll be writing more in future, but I wanted to post now because a) it’s been a while, b) it’s good practice, and c) I’d like to talk about how Red Bat got started, and what it means to me.
Let’s rewind to 2006, shall we? I was living in Southern California, where I’d been for most of my life. I’d been working at the same company for 10 years, had been divorced for 2 years, and had just gotten out of my first post-divorce relationship, which was kind of devastating for me.
I’d met Rebecca a year or so before when she commented on my blog, and we’d gotten to chatting. Her posts about life in Santa Cruz intrigued me, and she seemed like the type of person I could really get along with.
I’d also struck up an internet friendship (again, via the blog) with a (San Francisco-based) hilariously awesome bass player in a band called Birdmonster. They were playing a show somewhere in SF on New Year’s Eve 2007 (at the Warfield, I think?), and because my life was going SO WELL, I figured Screw It, I’ll drive up and see them play. I made good money, I had plenty of vacation time, and there wasn’t going to be any hot New Year’s Date. So I drove up, and made plans to stop by Santa Cruz to have lunch with Rebecca.
Then it happened. As I drove closer and closer to Santa Cruz, I noticed that the light was changing. It was more golden, clearer, more…something. I can’t adequately describe it, but it’s probably the closest I’ve gotten to a religious experience. Something inside me turned and clicked into place, and I knew that this was where I was supposed to be.
I met up with Rebecca, and we talked and she made coffee, and then we wandered around a bit and talked some more, and it was a great day. There was just something about Santa Cruz that spoke to me in a way that nowhere else had.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I decided that I needed to visit again, and a Plan began to form. So I came back up over a weekend, and explored some more. I picked up a copy of the Good Times, the Metro, and The Sentinel, and started checking out rental prices, just to see. It wasn’t too bad – I was paying less down south, but down south wasn’t HERE, and HERE had a premium on account of it being HERE, which was way better than THERE.
The original Plan was to wait until June, which was when I would have hit my 10 year anniversary with my company. But…I kinda couldn’t wait. I gave my 2 week notice in the middle of April, cashed out my retirement, and moved away from everyone I knew. Because being here made me feel better. Because it made me feel like it was ok to be whoever I was supposed to be, and that whatever path I took to get there was maybe going to be a little easier than it would have been elsewhere. And it was.
Rebecca was the only person I knew here, so I leaned rather heavily on her in the friendship department. She introduced me to her friends and awesome family, and I began to feel like this was Home.
Plan A had me working on a book (Science Fiction/Mystery, thank you very much), but I was either suffering from writer’s block or from Having Too Much Fun Being Retired at 32. I suspect the latter. So instead of writing, I went for lots of walks and drives and took photos. During one of my exploratory trips up here, I loaned a little point and shoot camera to Rebecca to use during a walk we went on with one of her friends. In my mind, that’s when Red Bat was born.
Fast forward to July of 2007. We’re sitting at Las Palmas Taco Bar near the wharf, and all of a sudden we decide that we should start a photography business. EXTREME EXCITEMENT ensued. It was what I needed to give my somewhat directionless trajectory a shove toward Creative Purpose, and she needed to transition to something that did justice to her creativity. And so Red Bat was born, for real. It was the first time either of us had tried anything of this magnitude, and BOY HOWDY was it an interesting year.
We got through it ok, still excited, still raring to go. Work started coming in, first from friends, and then from referrals and word of mouth. It was very gratifying to me that we could navigate the somewhat treacherous waters of co-owning a business together and still remain good friends.
The next few years are kind of a foggy whirlwind, as we learned how to run a business and still remain sane. Over time, Red Bat became the thing that defines this place and this time for me. It’s part of who I am, like it’s baked into my bones. It’s the evolving culmination of how being here makes me feel. And it’s good. Which brings us to today.
I wouldn’t be the person I am now without Rebecca. She’s had a seismic impact on my life, and while I’m sad to see her leave the business, I’m EXTREMELY excited to see what she has in store for the world in the future. Because it’s going to be amazing. Trust me.
You know, despite having photographed countless toasts in the course of this job, I’ve never actually given one before. So here goes (raising digital champagne flute):
Here’s to Rebecca: One of the best friends I’ve ever had, and one of the kindest, most hilarious, and most talented people I’ve ever met. I’m a better person for having you in my life, and I look forward to many more years of friendship. You’ll always be a Red Bat to me. Sláinte!