BE IT EVER SO
7 January 2001
Today seems to be a day to concentrate on house and home. Oh I don't mean that I spent
the day sprucing up the place (you know me better than that!).
No, first of all, this morning Walt did some investigation and discovered that when he
makes the house payment this month, it will be the last house payment. We have
lived here 30 years and will have paid off the 30 year mortgage. Somehow it seems so
anticlimactic. Perhaps that's because of the second mortgage we took out to have the roof
repaired last year (and pay for our trips to England). But still it's quite a credit
to...longevity, I guess...that we have actually paid off the first mortgage.
In the afternoon, we drove to Oakland to meet Jeri at the home of her friend Joe and
his partner Stacie. Joe plays the saxophone and was in Lawsuit in the early days, and for
several years. He left the band when he went to Bolivia with the Peace Corps, and would
make guest appearances with gigs when he was in town after that. When Jeri comes to town
she usually stays with Joe and Stacie.
Now Joe and Stacie have bought a house and today was the housewarming. The plan was
that we would pick Jeri up there and take her to the Oakland airport to return to Boston.
We felt right at home when we arrived. The house is a smaller version of our first
house, which was located just about a mile from this new house. I always loved that house,
so it was nice to see this small version.
While most of the people there were unknown to us, the guests we knew were all from the
old Lawsuit days. Several of the guys in the band are married now, and have kids, and
ironically many of them have settled within a short distance of each other. It's an echo
of our own years when the kids were little and all of our best friends from college lived
Joe spent some time in Bolivia with the Peace Corps and a friend of his had arranged a cha'lla
to bring luck to the new house. This is a ritual blessing performed in Bolivia as an
offering to mother earth.
I'm not totally sure of the finer points, but basically an altar is built,
with candles and things from nature. In Bolivia this would include substances that we
might have been arrested for here, so bay leaves were substituted.
The candles are lit and then people toss serpentine or confetti onto the fire
for luck. Alcohol is poured on the candles to set the whole thing on fire (since we
couldn't use pure alcohol, Joe used lighter fluid). In Bolivia everyone then
would take a swig of the alcohol, but since we weren't going to drink lighter fluid, they
made do with vodka. Traditionally, each person takes a mouthful from the bottle, swallows
half of it, and spits the other half onto the fire, which keeps the fire going for longer
(bringing more good luck).
When the fire has nearly gone out, the entire thing is picked up with a shovel and
buried --or at least it was today. It was a nice ceremony and we all enjoyed participating
I thought back to the many gatherings which had taken place in our Oakland house when
we were the age that our children are now, and I watched the new parents with the babies,
and I realized that yes, it really has been thirty years since we moved to Davis
and it does feel that it's time to have the mortgage paid off.
At the end of the evening, we took Jeri to the airport, and as I type this, she is on
her way back to Boston to decide what she's going to do with the rest of her life, now
that she is a Berklee College of Music graduate.