511 Obispo

Illustration lovingly penned by Michael Hamilton

Everyone raise your collective beers (it's 10:50am, you're drinking one right now, aren't you? Wait...just me?) and with a defiant tip of the wrist, let's pour one out for one of our fallen homies, 511 Obispo Ave. 

It's inevitable that all good things must come to an end, and so too, our beloved abode of the last five years is being relinquished to its original owners. I've mentioned the tragedy before (with varying levels of acceptance), and while I pack up my belongings this week with the haphazardly laid plan to move over the weekend, I thought I'd take a moment to pause and pay tribute to the best damn house I've ever lived in. 

While dripping the melted chocolate of a Ben's cookie on my white shirt like a proper 5-year-old galavanting around London over the summer with the unceasingly stylish Jen, we got onto the subject of our homes, hers in Zurich, mine in Long Beach. Both of us were on the ragged end of a multi-week traveling spree, so our homesickness was justified--even in the shadow of Big Ben. We challenged each other to write a post on our respective blogs about our homes, what we liked best about them, what we loved about living there. With my move-out date looming like a howling banshee at the end of my week, I'll take her up on the challenge now. 

As I transfered the last of my pile of books from shelf to box (the fifth box, incidentally, my heart beaming with pride), I found the original cover letter I wrote to our landlord in 2007 when we applied for the house. In the past five years, I feel we've made good on the promises we made here:

[excerpt] On the weekends we like to lounge in the grass or walk to the beach. During the week, we work as artists and design managers. We love our jobs, but even more than that, we love Long Beach. Since moving to this fair city, we've fallen in deep, deep like with it, with its oil refineries and restaurants and bike paths. It's our intention to stay put in this city for as long as we can, because life is a little bit better when you live in Long Beach.
We hope you will consider us for tenancy at your little house at 511 Obispo. We'd love that house and take care of that house and show off that house with pride.

But our love isn't only for the house itself; as much as any space is only the sum of its parts, our house, too, was only as good as the people filling it. Over the years, it has been filled to the brim with people I'm privileged to know and even more honored to call friends. Our house has seen countless parties, Beatniks, dinners, conversations--even two engagements. I will borrow a phrase from my CCM-listening past, a little observation by my homegirl Amy Grant, when I say that it truly was a house of love. 

Speaking of music, for some reason, in times of change or duress or personal tragedy, it's always Paul Simon who greets me at the threshold, with a fur-lined hood and a shrug. "Funky afro beat for your sour mood?" He'll say. And so it goes, yet again, Graceland spinning a permanent groove in the record of my late twenties. So with the titular track thudding in my brain, I'll trot out another familiar old friend's wisdom to finish this post. 

From Travels with Charley in Search of America, John Steinbeck feels my vibe: 

They refused seconds and I insisted. And the division of thirds was put on the basis that there wasn't enough to save. And with the few divided drops of that third there came into Rocinante a triumphant human magic that can bless a house, or a truck for that matter--nine people gathered in complete silence and the nine parts making a whole as surely as my arms and legs are part of me, separate and inseparable. Rocinante took on a glow it never quite lost. 

Thanks for the memories, 511 Obispo, you drunken old bag. 


Lacy said...


mr. mr. michael said...

fuck single tears... lets do them all!
cheers to you humble abode.

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