Philosophy, Public, Themes

Housewarmings ASAP

Any occasion is an opportunity to party. I have moved several times, not just apartments but houses I have owned and not. The first as heady as the last and the key to settling so is to have a housewarming party as soon as possible.

There was a week staying at the Fairmont in San Francisco looking for a place to buy where a real estate agent picked us up every morning to tour all the nooks and crannies of the city and I was hungry the whole time for food, and possibly for something in my price range. I was cross there was no time in the house hunting agenda to eat and also to realize that I had no hand in the agenda in the first place! I threw fits then, internally I combusted. This was the housing lending boom of the early 2000’s– where pressure to buy was as high and willy-nilly as the extent the banks would loan you for. For the record, I said No. For the record, I said I was hungry for food.

The place we won we did for a price we were told we wouldn’t win it for. It was splitting hairs in my calling the owners bluff, I realize that now but I had had enough pushing and I was about to budge no further. For all the other offers on the table, I was surprised they chose ours in the first place. It was a tense and foodless experience up until our housewarming party thrown by the real estate agent. I credit her for large platters of shrimp, boxes under white tablecloths for presentation, creme puffs and quality picture framing. The moment she combined my apples and potatoes into the woven platter I had on the table “Look! It’s pommes and pommes de terre.” I forgave her everything and really adored whoever she was or would be from then on out. I committed. All the neighbors came. She invited friends she thought we ought to know. This was the beginning of a long life of meaningful, purposeful parties for me.

Before all that, there was the property manager showing me a studio apartment on 8th Ave across from Town Hall in Seattle. It was a birdhouse of a place, a few stories up, corner unit. This was a place of 12+ floors where some tenants have lived for 30+ years. I was looking at my future. She popped my dream cloud and pointed out the east window to a sliver between two skyscrapers downtown where I could see the sparkling Puget Sound. She consoled me before I could reflect on her first statement by drawing a line in the sand “Maybe someday you can have a full water view.” Oh that’s where you want the line to be, eh? I don’t think so. I think we are standing in a sliver view of you keeping your job if you don’t rent me this apartment, I talked to the maintenance man on the way up, I know you’re half full in tenants, and full up on riff raff. “I’ll take it!” I got it for $200 less than asking. It was a superb place. I loved there were so many windows, there wasn’t any wall space, and the french-doored bookcase (with a window in it!) that amounted to the kitchen–thoughtful in an embarrassing way, like a huge smile with crooked teeth. What can you do? The window sills sat below my ass, and a lot would fall out of those windows to the shrubs below over the years. Occasionally, I would go down to collect the things. I never lost a guest.

Once I moved into this place, I packed it with strangers for a housewarming party, and the result was that a casual gang emerged that looked out for me when it came to even stranger strangers in all my time there and that is probably why I am still alive to tell these stories today. They saved my laundry, they made sure I woke in the middle of the night when the fire alarm called for us to get the hell out, they walked the stairs with me instead of taking the elevator everybody did because one could easily go missing in the bellowous shaft of the stairwell. What then?

Bainbridge Island occurred to me just over a decade ago now. During a storm where a college professor gave us a driving tour of the island in places where the storm enraged the water sending waves over the road we tempted down. I didn’t know what the hell this place was but I knew I wanted to find out more then. We bought a condo off the plans, a reckless fever that lit us from within which worked out because we couldn’t really see the plan and associated model with the power out and all. In the pitch of dark, the real estate agent’s enthusiasm failed to wane; I remember really wanting her to calm the fuck down. We didn’t have a housewarming party, I had a baby instead so the parties centered around that which made a lot of sense. Parties are the balm to the ouch of living.

A couple months ago I moved into a house that is slotted to be torn down in a year. It is a fine shack of a place near the water that the real estate agent encouraged, “Mak it is funk-y and if anyone could make something of it, you can.” Then I did and I am. Straight-away I set on a housewarming plan, affixing the invite to bottles of wine, delivering to all the neighbors and hounding my well-worn friends and some family into attending, too. It was just the warming spirit this place needed! After that party I could settle in. It was as if the air shifted and started flowing in cahoots with me where before it was ominous and pokey and I had no idea if things would ride right. What I still can’t believe is the neighbor next door and the neighbor across the street each having lived here for several years, met each other for the very first time crammed thigh to thigh on the broken-down adirondack chairs I had rescued from the yard and wrestled onto the porch just for the occasion! This news thrilled me, tickled my toes even. I was too aghast with delight to say so then.

Regular people. I am regular people, too. The synergy of getting regulars together is something I have dedicated myself to because there is nothing else I am so good at. There is an obviousness about the craft that flows through me and I just allow it. Well, I wrestle with it, too. Fight, disagree, ignore and still–it finds me just in time and asap.

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The day after a party is my favorite. I get to reflect… and notice things I didn’t before that brighten my already sunshiney review. Things like the faces on these flowers here.

“Home isn’t a place… it’s a feeling.” – Cecelia Ahern

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