Philadelphia, Summer 2015, Part One: Preamble

Last weekend I went to Philadelphia to spend time with my Sosyete du Marche family.

Thursday evening I caught the bus out to SeaTac International Airport. I planned to arrive about three hours early, to allow for unexpected delays. After dealing with one cranky TSA agent and being semi-roughly searched by another (I don’t do the naked body scanner machines), my plane was delayed and I had to wait even longer to board. Once everyone was finally aboard, we made pretty good time, however. We left about 40 minutes late, but made it into Philly only 15 minutes later than scheduled.

At Philadelphia International Airport, I met up with two of my house sisters at baggage claim (they were on a separate flight that arrived around the same time). Mambo BL (not her real initials, but if she reads this I think she will know what the initials stand for) rented a car. We picked up some food to go at a falafel place, as all of us were hungry after spending the night in transit and I could feel a low blood sugar headache coming on. Then it was over to Termini Brothers Bakery on 8th Street to pick up a cake for the houngan of the house.

As we started heading for the sosyete, our passenger-side rear tire went flat. And I don’t mean a little flat, I mean undriveable flat. We had the choice of waiting for the rental agency to send out assistance or changing it ourselves, so we opted for the latter, with Mambo BL grabbing the jack and diving in (it figures—she’s a Dantor woman). At that point we were closer to the airport than we were to the sosyete, so we opted to return there to exchange the car. We finally made it to the sosyete in the early afternoon and spent the rest of the day catching up with everyone.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but whenever I am there it really does feel like I am coming home. There were about 10 of us present, including the Mambo and Houngan. Saturday morning started with breakfast and then a presentation by one of the mambos about dealing with difficult clients. Then Mambo Vye Zo filled our brains full of wanga, pwen and other magickal stuff.

When our lessons were done, we took a break. It was still early evening when my girlfriend Anne texted me to complain about our neighbors. A bit of background: This is a family that lives in our condo complex, several units down from us. Ever since we moved here several years ago, their dog has been running loose in the narrow strip of backyard, pooping, barking and occasionally charging after people. The Home Owner’s Association has fined the neighbors multiple times, and Anne even went to court once to try to get them to control their dog, yet we still sometimes see it roaming in the backyard unsupervised. Anne always checks to see if their dog is outside any time she wants to take our dog beyond our fenced-in patio. This family also has two young boys who often play unsupervised in the yard. They run, scream, throw things and sometimes damage the property. During one particularly horrible summer they, along with a few other children who no longer live in our complex, decided the backyard was a great place to ride bikes all day, every day. By the end of that summer, our backyard looked like a mud pit whenever it rained, as the constant barrage of bike tires destroyed much of the grass.

Back to Saturday evening. Anne texts me to say she caught one of the neighbor boys climbing over our patio fence. She has told them before not to do this, as the gate is a simple wood frame around medium-weight chicken wire, and not built to sustain weight. The fence and the gate were only built a few years ago and it wasn’t cheap. So Anne naturally gets irate when someone else’s kids climb on it, as there is a real potential for damage that we would then have to pay for. I was irritated too, but at this point there isn’t a whole lot we can do about it until the gate is noticeably damaged, then we MAYBE can get the parents to pay for it IF we catch the kids in the act at the time. More about Seattle in Part Two of this story, in which it will become obviously why I shared all this.

After our break ended, we began preparing for the evening’s event—a fet in honor of Simbi Makaya. I had never worked with any of the Simbis before, although he is the met tet of someone I know in our Seattle group. I knew that he had recently taken a strong interest in one of my house sisters, but I had no idea that he would have any interest in me. But that’s the Lwa for you—they are always full of surprises.

(To be continued)

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