Oh Seattle, you ole salty dog, you. I was just nowhere near your neighborhood. But I was looking for a little fresh air, and, well, you do know how to draw a gal back in. You’re always there when I need you. Refreshing sea air whispers over my skin with the sweetest kisses not even Theo could match. But adding a little savory chocolate to the mix never did any harm. Even your grey and rainy skies don’t deter me although I do wish you’d make up your mind, hoodie or umbrella. I lived long enough in your realm to understand how not to look like a tourist, but I’ve also learned that the sopping-wet-hood-soaked-drowned-rat look doesn’t do anything for me either.
You tell me you’re learning, growing, doing so much better now. I believe “fantastic” is the word you like to use. And I must admit, I see the sparkle with your Amazon orbs and open Puget views and amazing restaurants and walk-friendly sidewalks and public transportation. Oh good grief. But, the 65 cranes. A little much, non? You don’t think you’re going a little overboard, trying too hard? If you keep pushing yourself like that, you just might collapse from exhaustion.
What’s that? Oh yes, the coffee shops. You do make them super cozy. And they are always packed. As are the bars, most restaurants, the libraries. There’s always a solid reprieve somewhere or another.
Mmmm … that reminds me. Golden Gardens. My favorite. There’s nothing like it. And man do I miss it. It really is my happy place with its ducks and turtles and sand and shells and cold mountain wind. It’s where I find myself. Recognizing its effect on me and then wandering through the Nordic Museum made me want to hop on a plane to Sweden or Denmark or Norway. One of these days. For now, Seattle is the next best thing, maybe better. And then the Ballard Locks, don’t even get me started. I had to go there three times this visit, you know, to soak it all in, store it up for later.
It’s easy to get caught up in all your beautiful things, thinking, well maybe I could live here again. And then … poof … the rustling waves of melancholy. Old haunts, a myriad of unrecognizable faces sipping mugs of robust java, where sometimes I expect to find a life I left behind ages ago, maybe a place that stood still, waited for me. I remember, people, loves, rain, depression, feet and legs made for walking. Memories I somehow hope will transport me to what used to be, but better, so much better. I’m better now, yeah, me too. I wouldn’t go as far to say fantastic though. One minute, no, no, I could never live here again. Leave the past behind, Julia. Then I turn a corner to discover tears filling my eyes, so many times and people thought of, missed, appreciated for having come into my life. But, again, years ago. The edges of my apple fritter, crispy, sugar flakes dancing in my teeth. Another happy place, goes so well with the soy latté as big as the size of my head, she says.
You’re cold, but not oppressive. My days overflow with someone, something, food, more walking. I’m already anticipating what it will be like not to be here with you, Seattle. And I keep waiting for him to walk through the door. You know who. Those lips. But that was another time. So many moons ago.
All these places attach themselves to me, the calls of the crows and seagulls, the vegetables and international flavors, the smiling bus drivers, the scents of weed, coffee and teriyaki and sunshine and more rain and breathtaking mountains and wavering scent of sea air. I could cry. I close my eyes, and I’m back living in a funky studio in an old brick building, before they knock them all down to build yet another overpriced condo. One with hardwood floors and a cute kitchen with see-through glass cabinet doors, an old fridge and a deep ceramic sink where I’ll lose quite a few glasses slipping sudsy through my fingers. Oh, time. One with built-ins and a walk-in closet and maybe a rooftop garden or deck if I’m lucky. One filled with free furniture I’ve found streetside. One with a storage space in the basement and a rickety gated elevator. One within walking distance of coffee shops and restaurants and bars and the library and bookstores and the grocery store and public transportation. One where cats are allowed so the carpeted halls still smell faintly of Nag Champa and cat piss. I’d opt for cat piss over the skunky scent of weed EVERYWHERE any day, but that’s just me. Oh, and maybe fewer crazy homeless people who scream at me or beg me for money every day or two. Maybe fewer techie takeovers, and definitely cheaper rent.
I rode your streetcar, from the International District to Capitol Hill. Your happy hours are still pretty good, but before that I was going to read and sip tea at Elliot Bay Book Company, or Little Oddfellows as it’s known, but there were no seats left. So while I instead warmed up with a chamomile tea at warm and cozy Joe Bar, the ridiculously intoxicating aroma of freshly flipped ham and cheese crêpes permeated my olfactory senses. I used to live right around the corner from here. I could come over whenever I wanted. “It’s tempting, isn’t it,” he asks. “Would you sell yourself to the big data devil for all of this?” Maybe. No. Well, maybe.
Despite my falling for you all over again, there have been a few disappointments. Like that too-cool-for-school waiter at Hattie’s Hat who simply replied, “Nope”, when I asked him if they would serve meatloaf on a Sunday late afternoon. Only for dinner. Again, a “Nope” from the hipster drone at Sol Liquor after I ordered an eggnog. Only during pop-ups. After dreaming about avgolemono soup at a nearby Greek restaurant only to arrive to see the “Closed on Mondays” sign. But I’m just being snarky and sensitive. I can’t really blame any of them, just my bad timing. At first I thought Taste of India had drastically reduced the size of their samosas. So tiny. But, nope, the first two were on the house teasers, along with the hot chai and then later rice pudding. Omg, I can taste it all over again, and I wish it was closer. They also have the best customer service. I heart them so.
On a Tuesday, the day before my birthday, I found myself once again at a fave coffee shop. Thank you for not taking this one away either, Seattle. Michael Jackson played overhead, blared actually, while rain dripped and dripped and dripped outside. And I was happy. No internet. Just another soy latté, a sugary pastry, a book, and a notebook and pen in case of inspiration. There, I was able to breathe. To relax. I loved that it was loud. I loved that people were talking to each other. I loved that the cashier liked my hair buns. I loved that I felt so at home.
I saw a teenage boy sleeping in one of your doorways. We’re going to have to have a little talk about that. Yes, he has the right to a good night’s sleep. But don’t you think lowering the rents a little might help? And tackling that god-forsaken drug problem. I sat next to an older homeless-looking man on the bus. He had a white beard. He reminded me of my uncle. I think I’m a little over stimulated. Maybe it’s all the caffeine.
To help me calm my nerves, I went to the Ballard Smoke Shop for a drink. My god, the music there is ridiculous. Best jukebox EVER. I had a grilled cheese sandwich, tater tots and a martini. Best meal EVER. I’d go there every day if I didn’t think I’d turn into a complete lush. I went three times. It’s getting close to time to go home, I think.
You, Seattle, are like a crystal ball. You show me all the places I’ve been, all the people I’ve known. You give me signs. You remind me, and then make me forget. And you light up my world just enough to reveal every one of my silver hairs and that weird crinkling thing going on underneath my chin/neck. When did that happen??!
U-District. Downtown. Ballard. Capitol Hill. Queen Anne. International District. Greenwood. Bulldog News. El Chupacabra. Green Lake lights. SAM. Pike Place Market. Uwajimaya. Ballard Coffee Works. Cupcake Royale. Oddfellows. Kedai Makan. Nasai Teriyaki. Lighthouse Coffee. Top Pot. Ballard Farmers’ Market. Smith Tower. Oliver’s. Linda’s. Montana. Café Pettirosso. Mee Sum Pastry. Perennial Tea Room. I squeezed it all in, and more. I don’t know how I did it. Very little sleep. And still, I didn’t get to see all my friends. Some, but not all. My body fell apart when I returned home. But it was worth it. You’re weird. I love you, and you annoy me. You aren’t my very first love, but you’re pretty high up there. And ok, some of your changes are for the better, and some I just don’t get. But you’re doing what you feel works for you. And that’s admirable, pretty hot actually. Damn.
Seattle, to once again quote a beloved movie memory, you rock my world.