Ten years ago today, I moved from a dark, oddly-shaped studio apartment in Northgate to an adorable duplex in Ballard. The place had just been vacated by a co-worker, who tipped me off to its availability. It was perfectly laid out for me, with a bedroom (yippee!) kitchen, dining area, living room, front yard, back patio and parking place and the rent was unbeatable. $650 a month!
After I moved in and got settled a little, I had a series of housewarming events over a weekend. Friday night was the house blessing and spellcasting party. I made up little spell kits with complete instructions and folks had a great time sprinkling saltwater, reciting charms and stringing up rowan berries. Saturday was a drop-in buffet for those with evening commitments and Saturday night was a grand céilidh with somewhere around sixty people singing, playing tunes and drinking gallons of scotch. Sunday was a "survivor's brunch" complete with a reenactment of the assault on the Death Star from Star Wars using primarily French cheese for all the actors and ships.
Over the next seven years, countless wonderful and moving things happened in that house. I threw at least twenty huge céilidhs for the Slighe nan Gaidheal community. There were times when every room, including the tiny bathroom, was packed with happy, laughing, singing people enjoying the little home I had made for myself.
My friend Pandora and I started the Winter Solstice Banquet, which usually entailed a full day of decorating, a day and a half of cooking and a full day of washing dishes and cleaning afterward. The traditions of heartfelt reflection and honest sharing that evolved around the Winter Solstice table will stay with me for as long as I live.
One year I held a birthday céilidh for my dear friend Kat which her evangelical parents attended. I was pretty nervous about not offending them and with controlling my reactions if they inadvertently offended me. I kept myself in an icy grip of self-control, but despite my fears we had a truly wonderful evening and found common ground despite our differences.
That house was also the last of my homes that my mother ever saw. The year that I moved there, I decided that I wanted to host the family Christmas celebration. It was a very big deal to me and it came off really well. I took the last photo of my Mom that I ever would that day. We blew it up and framed it for her memorial service.
Lingoman and I met while I was still living there in 2001. In the early years of our romance, he would come down to Seattle fairly often so we spent a lot of time in that house getting better acquainted. One weekend, we were getting ready to go out of town when I discovered an enormous dragonfly perched over my dining room table. I mean enormous and it had apparently decided to settle down and start a family with my Ikea light fixture. Being the son of a biologist, Lingoman had no problems capturing the guy unharmed and releasing him outside to rejoin the dragonfly dating pool. That next Solstice, he gave me a beautiful cast aluminum tray decorated with dragonflies. Every time I see it I think "he will help me deal with my fears."
In January 2006, I received notice from the landlords that they had sold the place to a developer, who would be tearing it down to build townhouses. After crying for a week, I picked my self up and started looking into buying a place, since I never wanted to get that kind of letter again. With help and guidance from my wonderful realtor, Sara, I found the condo in which I now live. I moved at the beginning of August, 2006. It's a nice place; comfortable and convenient, but not set up for entertaining. Life has become rather solitary as a result and I struggle with that.
The developer didn't get around to demolishing the place until January 2nd, 2007. I got a call from my former neighbors while I was driving Lingoman to the airport to fly home. By the time I got there, it was all over. You can see my stove on which seven Winter Solstice Banquets were prepared in the pile of rubble if you look closely.
I often ask myself if I would trade the more upscale conveniences of this place to have my little duplex back. The answer is still 'yes.' I would go back if I could.