Sergio Graduates

Screen shot 2013-04-21 at 9.06.21 AM A little more than four years ago, Sergio was 18 years old and fresh off a decision to drop out of college to start a photography business.

At the same time, I had just bought a little house in Tacoma and offered Sergio to move into the finished attic for cheap rent (that sounds like I put him in a Harry Potter closet, which is somewhat true). Sergio was so motivated he moved in weeks ahead of me and my then-girlfriend Amanda and crashed on the floor until we all acquired some furniture. Sergio was instrumental in getting the house into shape -- painting walls, moving boxes and providing opinions. Lots of opinions.

None of us thought about it at the time, but he had really just enrolled into my University of Hard Knocks. I threw a lot at him: a girlfriend-turned-fiancee-turned wife, a cat, a dog, chickens, home construction projects, one rent increase, job changes, etc. The only certainty was a lot of change.

Sergio threw a lot at me, too. He taught -- no -- reminded me about how much college-aged kids like to party... on weekdays... usually Mondays... late... sometimes on the roof. He and Amanda bonded instantaneously and grew a strong sibling relationship but also challenged me to balance their interests when they had conflict and I had to play brother, boyfriend/fiancΓ©/husband and landlord. I also didn't realize that my home would become "Sergio Mottola Photography Shipping & Receiving" as his business picked up.

Looking back, I can say this: Sergio was a great roommate and an OK tenant. It's a rare opportunity to enjoy so much time with an adult sibling, and it was a treat to watch him carve his path in the world. His path is also one void of deep cleaning and requiring frequent rent reminders -- common for his demographic. If I ever take another roommate here, she will be over the age of 40.

Sergio took a next step on his path last week, moving into a friend's house in the neighborhood. It's not logistically necessary, but he's outgrown the attic. He'll get to adapt to a new environment, mix-up his lifestyle and get exposure to everything else that goes along with self-inflicted change (the best kind) and mature because of it. What's so impressive about Sergio is that as much as he has accomplished for his age, there's a long way to go and that speaks to his extraordinary potential. I'm getting too old, predictable and set in my ways to push him further along.

So, congratulations on your commencement and work these past four years, Sergio. You graduated from this phase of your life with honors.