2004 has been our “30th” for several things. In June, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary; In October, 1974, we loaded up a 5′ by 8′ U-Haul, hitched it to my 1967 Pontiac Tempest, and left northwestern Ohio for a vision of Ecotopia in Seattle; and, 30 years ago tonight, we did a “midnight move” from our apartment on Belmont Avenue, Capitol Hill to our current home near Greenlake.
We had signed a 6-month lease for the Belmont apartment in October, and faithfully paid our rent. However, around Thanksgiving, the radiator system, which had been showing increasing signs of distress, finally just quit working, and we had no heat at all, day or night, for the month of December.
I had found work in what I then considered my “field”, as a bicycle mechanic, while Mrs. Perils was spending her evenings weaving rugs and her days trying to sell them at the Pike Place Market. We were unused to the relentless damp and gloom of this northern latitude, and a depression of sorts settled in. I don’t remember if we called the landlord about the lack of heat or not…perhaps we didn’t feel, as carpetbaggers and fugitives from responsible midwestern values, entitled to heat on demand. My seldom-used Tempest, meanwhile, was parked in an inclined lot with its right side facing upwards, and once when I went to drive it, I found 2 inches of water on the floor and mold festooning then interior.
At that time in our strapping youth, we mostly bicycled for transportation. We still felt, however, that we needed to do something for exercise, and often stopped at Greenlake to run its 2 1/2 mile circumference before bicycling back to our Belmont Avenue digs. At some point, a friend of ours approached us about renting a house near Greenlake with him, and we jumped at the chance. We went to tour the house, but were disappointed when it was rented to someone else. Spurred by the cold and damp in our apartment, though, we started checking ads, and happened on one for our current house. The landlady said we could have it, but we’d have to take it immediately, and not wait for our apartment lease to expire.
This presented a dilemma, as we felt bound by the lease, but really wanted the house and its proximity to our hallowed running venue. We finally decided that enough was enough, packed up our stuff on New Year’s evening and moved into the house. It seemed cavernous compared to our apartment, as we had no furniture beyond my JBL 77 speakers and Mrs. Perils’ weaving loom. We sat on the floor, ate a dinner hastily purchased at Dick’s Drive-In, and felt quite satisfied in our civil disobedience and the unimagined opulence of occupying an entire house (a letter of explanation to our Belmont landlord brought an apology and full refund of our deposit).
9 months later our landlady asked us if we were prepared to move out so she could put the house on the market and (subject of a future story) we ended up, after sweating bullets over signing a land contract and paying what seemed like a fortune, buying the place from her instead.