I’ve mentioned my brief flirtation with urban loft living — it was a bad fit for me. I like urban, but that was TOO urban. I like gritty, but that was TOO gritty. Six months of living in an industrial loft soured me so deeply on everything urban, I fled the city completely and moved an hour south of Seattle to Olympia, WA.
Olympia is a weird mix of state capitol and college town, home to a mix of government employees, activists, indie rockers, Evergreen State College students, hippies, and lesbians. Dre was planning to finish his degree at Evergreen, and I was burned out on the city, so I moved down a few months before he did and started scoping things out. I started in a crappy bland apartment, but volunteered at the local food co-op, where I saw a listing for an amazing house. Summer of 2000, I moved into what would forever be known as The HippieShack2000™: the most amazing place I ever lived.
I found a few old, pixelated photos on my hard drive recently (taken with a digital camera that was larger than most video recorders now), which is awesome because it allows me to take y’all on a tour of this magical place.
I have to believe that somewhere, down on Overhulse Road, this magical house is still doing its thang.
Come, walk down memory lane with me. Warning: I’m going to get all nostalgic and self-indulgent… forgive me.
This was the inside of the main room of the house. The place had been built by an aging Evergreen student who lived in a treehouse on the property. The house was amazing in many ways (TONS of skylights! little lofts everywhere! heated floors!) and totally janky in others (half-finished paint jobs! an external staircase to get the second floor!). But let’s focus on the awesomeness.
In the picture above, you can see the loft we slept in (straight ahead), our janky closet (beneath), the doorway to the kitchen (so weird that it was so lovely, and yet the kitchen was completely unfinished). You can also see a bag in the middle of the floor, because 25-year-old me did NOT believe in staging. Clearly. To the left, you can see the ladder to one of the guestbed lofts.
But that bed rocked. Except for when you had to get up in the middle of the night and pee.
Also: our hilarious paper-mache balloon Christmas tree light covers.
Our bed loft was one of three partial lofts downstairs. We used the other two lofts as a TV/guestbed area. So, this loft was a guestbed, and then the other loft was about six feet away, and that’s where the TV lived. It was cool — the TV was 7 feet off the ground and very much out of the way, but easily viewable from the guestbed loft. Obviously, you were fucked if you lost the remote.
This was the space under the guestbed loft, which we just called “the cozyspace.” Since the concrete floor was heated, it was pretty warm down there… and this was in an era when we had a lot of parties (including Breakfast Club) so having little mini-chill rooms was a priority.
Now, let’s go upstairs. To do so, you had to walk outside — which was weird. BUT! At least it was cool out there…
This was a thing I called “The Treezeebo,” and it always made me wish I was a smoker. And here are the stairs!
So yeah: the stairs were outside, but this being Washington it rains ALL THE TIME, so the builder/landlord had covered the stairs with a mix of brown plastic tarps and random branches. It was definitely a bit janky, but the combination of the tarped awning over the door and the tarp-covered stairs meant that you could get upstairs without getting wet — just cold.
Oh man, and now I’m getting all nostalgic. The upstairs at this house was AMAZEBALLS. This my office, which also had another guestbed:
We used a bookshelf to divide the space between my office and the little area we’d decided was for yoga. The irony here? Back in 2000, I was doing yoga almost daily, and trying to get Andreas interested (he was only passingly curious). Ten years later, he became a yoga teacher.
As you can see, in contrast to the downstairs, the upstairs of the house was completely finished and freaking GORGEOUS. No half-done paint jobs or concrete floors here. It was quite lovely.
My favorite thing about this house was how smart the builder had been with lighting. The house was tucked deep in the forest — and windows just don’t give you much light in the forest — so he’d built the house with TEN skylights, so both the downstairs and upstairs were FLOODED with natural light, even on the cloudiest of days. I don’t know why more builders in the Pacific Northwest don’t take advantage of this logic. Skylights let in the maximum amount of cloudshine. Without all those ceiling windows, this house would have been dark and dreary.
DEEP SIGH. Seriously, you guys. This house was amazing. We only lived there a year (I moved to New York summer of 2001 to do the Columbia Publishing Course), and ultimately living in Olympia wasn’t a great fit for either of us… but that house. The dear, sweet HippieShack2000™. It will forever live on as the coolest place I’ve lived.