Tuesday, March 01, 2005


I'm really excited to go see the Arts and Crafts exhibit at LACMA. As long as I can remember I have been a big fan of craftsman style houses, and all things from that particular design epoch. I love the pocket doors with the leaded glass. I love the dark wood and the wide stair cases with the squared lines. I love the roomy arm chairs and couches. They look, and indeed they are, solid, and masculine. Yet there is something of the receptive feminine with the reflections of nature in patterns and colors that were used during the period. It's a satisfying fusion of male and female, the yin and yang.

But the best thing about a craftsman house is the porch.

I lived in a 1907 craftsman in Long Beach years ago for a couple years. My friend Ingrid was living there, renting a room from Patrick the guy that owned the house and when the other downstairs bedroom became vacant she convinced me to move in. I loved the house, but the guy that owned it, Pat, was kind of a weirdo.

He was, at that time in his late 30s and he was really into Jesus and Mickey Mouse and taking Asian kids on church group outings. Ingrid and I were in our early 20s. She was really into getting a man to marry her. I was really into partying. And this house was a GREAT place to throw a party.

The downside to the very old house was that it had only one bath with a shower and that was between my bedroom and Ingrid's bedroom. There was a half bath that Pat had built himself, off the back pantry, right outside my bedroom door, and Pat used that for his morning "rituals," but when he took his occasional shower he used our bathroom.

I didn't have a problem with that, I mean it was his house, and frankly I preferred a fresh smelling roommate than the lingering funk that stayed behind when he left the room. Maybe he was afraid of Ingrid who was very passive aggressive, and made no secret of the fact that she resented him using our bathroom, but he only showered maybe twice a week. Pat claimed to be studying to be a priest and as far as I knew he was celibate because he never had any grown up women visitors. He would occasionally stand to close to me and sort of hump my leg, but he took no offense when I pushed him away with a, "No Pat! Off!"

Ingrid was the other downside. She had control issues. And if you looked up high maintenance in the dictionary there's a picture of her, I swear. She was a nurse and she was really into doctors. Or any kind of man who was a "professional." She was not an unattractive woman, but she thought, and she would tell you, or anyone who would listen, that she looked a lot like Catherine Daneuve. Ingrid was a little deluded. I think it's because she had really big boobs and so she got a lot of attention from men.

Ingrid needed a lot of attention from men. All men. Including the ones I was dating. Like Mark, the drummer, who would come through the door and Ingrid would run across the room and leap into his arms squealing "catch me!" Or John, whom she slept with. And I can only hope that he gave her the same lovely STD that he gave me as a karmic reward. I knew how she was because we'd been friends for a while and you accept the good and the bad in your friends. I didn't know that she'd actually screw my boyfriend behind my back or we wouldn't have been friends anymore. And it's why we're no longer friends. I'll accept a lot of bad with the good but there's a line.

So you might be asking yourself why I would live with Pat and Ingrid.

Quite simply it's because I loved the house. And even more than that I loved the porch. It was huge, running the whole 30 foot width of the front of the house. You climbed four steps up to it and it was like another room. The short wall that skirted each side was wide enough to sit on and at one end Pat had hung a swing that three people could sit on comfortably. There were so many evenings spent with my friends hanging on the porch in the summer twilight. I would imagine that family that lived in the house when it was first built doing the same thing, only they were probably drinking sasparilla, or some old timey drink instead of Coronas.

The house was comfortable. It had great bones and even horny, stinky Pat and controlling, needy Ingrid could not mar how safe I felt when I lived there. This was a time in my life when I was making "questionable" choices (like dating John) and some horrible things happened, so it was important for me to feel safe and protected when I was at home. Living there with my crazy roommates kept me sane.

And I know I'm going to live in a craftsman house again and it will feel the same, no it will feel even better because it will be mine and Pat and Ingrid won't be there.

And because it's how they built'em back then.

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