Because, sunrise

There are certain mornings I deeply miss riding the bus.  It may be warmer in my car, but there’s a wakefulness to the cold walk and steaming air that isn’t entirely unpleasant.  It isn’t the foot-stomping huddle of people that I miss though, it’s the ability to keep my eyes fixed on the horizon rather than the road in front of me.

Seattle seems to have finally shouldered her winter coat. The temperature is dropping and snow keeps falling at higher elevations.  A thin sheet of ice coats the leaf debris clinging to the curb and that pesky warning light on my dashboard keeps flashing back on. (It’s something to do with the cold, not a lack of safety—when she starts warm there’s no light. In the cold, there is. I’m not good with cars, even my beloved Greta.) Today pinks and purples hung low in the sky, and as soon as I took the curve down 46th to Leary I gasped.  It’s the mountains. The mountains. Shimmering with the deep blue of distance and white of new snow, they caught the colors of sunrise as the sun crept up for one of the last days of 2014.

It’s been a year. I’m not ending it where I thought I would be and last night I spent most of the evening falling off of climbs instead of getting up anything.  Still, there’s a certain grace to falling, and I think I’m getting better at it. Or at least, more comfortable with the idea of it. I’m talking literally, but I mean it in more ways than crashing onto a bouldering mat. Though I mean that, too. After a little over a year, my apartment is finally feeling like a home that belongs to me.  I have too many scented candles and a record player and radio that are finally hooked up.  I’m starting to get nice wine glasses. I have a dog bowl for my house guests and spare bedding for friends.  My cast iron collection is growing and continues to be well seasoned. My books are organized by subject then alphabetical order. My game collection keeps growing. These are all objects, yes, but they are important ones. It is home, not just a place I’m staying until real life starts.

Alone, in my car, I talk to the sky. It hurts sometimes, in its beauty.  I’ve always thought of beauty as something edged and sharp. Pretty is softness but beauty has an element of danger to it.  Another body was found on Rainer this morning.  The clouds, as they turn colors, are not just swatches of paint.  My body aches from last night’s gym session, I feel clunky, my fingers are cold on Greta’s wheel.  Hello, beautiful city, ringed in mountains. The ship canal as I cross the bridge is still but shimmering, cut with reflections of boat hulls and rigging.  The sun is up a little higher, a bright blaze.  By the time I write this everything has dulled into daylight and the pale winter sky.  Did you see the sunrise this morning? If I can show you the right glimpse, you’ll see why I love this place, you’ll fall in love too.

[I have no photographs to share with this– nothing gets the whole thing in the right way.]

Each Day the World Shrinks

Pardon the long gap between posts.  It’s been hectic here and as the weather warms I feel much more inclined to be out in it and not sitting behind a computer. But an update is long overdue.  So here’s a non-scholarly, event-filled update.

This past weekend was many things.  It was HonkFest West, it was the XX, it was Tim Shannon, it was sunny and glorious and it was pell mell sightseeing with a bit of work fit in there.  I have to say I haven’t been hitting the books as diligently as I’d like to be.  Cutting an hour off of my commute is wonderful, but it was nice reading time.

It’s hard to know where to begin.  HonkFest dominated the weekend.  Two of the guys in Minor Mishap (from Austin! made the front page of the Sunday entertainment section in the Seattle Times!) stayed at our house and I did my best to play tour guide and hostess.  I made strong coffee and pointed to bus stops and was hopefully more helpful than overbearing.

Tim came into town Friday, and I don’t know that we ever figured out exactly how long it’d been, but it was sort of strange to be waiting at the airport for someone I haven’t seen in years.  Waiting always makes me nervous–I’m afraid I won’t recognize the person, or that they won’t recognize me.  Travelers came in waves up the escalators; half looking exhausted, half looking exhilarated.  Of course I was looking the wrong direction when he finally showed up.  And of course I recognized him.  Foolish to think otherwise.

After dropping his stuff off and grabbing food we headed right for HonkFest and didn’t slow down the rest of the trip.  Danced it up in Fremont, both in the streets and in Brouwers.  Back to the Meridian House for yet more dancing, yet more horns, percussion, accordions… Nothing like having HonkFest move into the living room.

Saturday was the Seattle Center, the sculpture garden, Pike Market, the library, Seattle Art Museum, Cal Anderson Park, Volunteer Park (bike race, greenhouse, Asian Art Museum, Watertower).  Back to HonkFest, in Georgetown this time, to a party with a flaming tether ball, more dancing and closing out with a bottle of wine and exhaustion.

Sunday slowed down with a late breakfast and traipsing about Ballard.  Honk Fest continued but we bowed out.  Ended the night at the Sea Monster where Tim made new friends and gained a new understanding for many of the stories I tell him.

Monday I headed into the office and met up with the boys afterwards. Black cod, scallops over arugula and asparagus for dinner.  And then, the impetus for the whole visit: the xx.  Sound in the Showbox SoDo isn’t anything to write home about, but we danced around regardless.  If there’s music on, it’s hard to keep myself from moving.  Thanks to Tim, there’s almost always music on for me.

There were more adventures, there are more stories, but I don’t want to give it all away.  Suffice to say the visit wasn’t long enough and there are more things to be done.

It’s funny how time both passes and doesn’t.  Here are two things that made my world that much smaller this weekend.  While dancing around on Friday night I felt someone tap my shoulder.  It was a friend, also from college, and I turned to point to Tim.  The two spent the next ten minutes catching up, all three of us miles and miles away from the 12000 person college we once called a home of sorts.  The second thing happened after Jason from Minor Mishap headed home.  While becoming Facebook Friends (that application that seems intent on shrinking everyone’s world) I saw a face I hadn’t thought about in years.  A chance-met man through friends of friends, we had a brief friendship and some roof-jumping right before graduation, and he was, smiling and in the same graduate department as my new friend Jason.  Go Austin, now I know two of your residents- perhaps that’s my next travel destination. Texas seems to be accumulating people who know me.

(Photos courtesy of Tim, except the last one of the xx, courtesy of my confusing new phone)

Family

mom collage

Ballard Locks

Water a slip slickness behind glass–

salmon struggle against current.

The girl beside me presses her face

to the greenness, all nose smudge and forehead.

.

Thick bodies squirming with the effort

of returning home.  Outside the viewing room

.

the air is brine-scented, the sky optimistic blue.

I have not seen my mother in months

but I know above her the dusk is pulling across clouds–

the first stars emerging.  The nights are shorter here,

.

as if afterthoughts.

*

I am missing my family, and I don’t know when I’ll be back East to see them next.  I am finally placing my roots here, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten where I’ve come from.  I wish sometimes that I could populate my own village, with the people I love and care about.  The world is such a vast place.  Right now, I know people who have been asleep for hours, I know people who have a dark sky above them.  I’m not sure that I know anyone just beginning to wake, but it’s a matter of time.  How large, this earth.  How incredibly vast.