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.]

Arrival

In the early light of Sunday, with fresh coffee and a muffin, I find myself scanning the news for a moment before I find the article. 1 dead, 1 missing.  Click, open. Scan down. Snowshoe. It isn’t anyone I know.

Is this how I know I’ve arrived to live here, in this place of snow and rain, mountains and plains?  My climbing pack is at my feet, my mind is running through the check list. Harness. Chalk. Gym pass. Tonight I’ll meet my friend for a night sail over the water of Lake Union.  In the morning I’ll go to my tech job, new bruises from the climbing wall, wind burn from a night sail, tossing “did you hear about the avalanches near Alpental?” because we all have.

I am a stereotype of a person; drawn to this town by art, kept here by the life that unfolded around me.  I am any other single woman with tattoos, skirts and boots, throwing a backpack into a car for the weekend to escape to the mountains, faithfully listening to KEXP until it fades to static. My friends have PhDs and play in bands and work great jobs and work awful jobs.  I know fire dancers and yoga teachers and this still does not make me unique.  I want this to unsettle me—I should be different, I should stand out.  I should want this.

I fill my coffee cup again, and I know that my friends, at their own tables, are doing the same thing.  Coffee, scan the news for avalanche information after a treacherous weekend.  My friend is gathering her harness and shoes and in a few minutes I’ll leave to pick her up and we’ll practice leading until we can’t anymore, preparing for a summer of adventure.   The clouds break and sun streams into my apartment. I don’t have anything to prove anymore, I found my tribe.

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Proximity

Some places are close enough to walk. Others are a bus ride. Others are by car, and still others are only really feasible by plane or boat.

A year ago, I’d never been to Tost.  Now I’ve lost track.  I’ve been there with friends I had yet to really know, balancing cupcakes and decked in sequins.  I’ve been there to celebrate a new home with a friend who has since moved out of the neighborhood.  I’ve been there to dance and to drink and to listen to music.  I can’t say it’s always been amazing, but it’s always been its own sort of fun.  This is a place I can walk.

I’ve been thinking about proximity a lot, and today forced the concept of closeness into sharper focus.  Phone calls and vague information about family, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be worried or if I’m supposed to be moving about the day to day as if nothing is happening (because, well, maybe nothing is.)

It is easy for me to pay attention to those around me.  I pay too much attention to those around me, and the friends and family who are a more than a bus ride away drift into the periphery.

I love this city. I love the way downtown looks in the mornings- fogged over or glinting or jagged and outlined by mountains.  I have met amazing people and made good friends.  But sometimes I want to go home, by which I mean, crawl into a space I know will not shift.  I no longer think this place exists. I have too many histories, too many versions of myself to combine to one perfect image, easily held.

Not From Around Here

Seattle is a place of transplants. The Heroes show, last night and tonight at the Jewel Box Theater in Belltown (inside Rendezvous… but that’s another story) explores the idea of Not From Around Here in six personal essays where writers and artists and musicians collaborate to map out their own experiences within this city and others.

Maybe I’m partial, but Carrie Purcell’s segment was my favorite.  Her piece interwove third person personal essay and the history of the King Cello with cello music by Hana Mareckova, It was beautiful, and I’m very glad I stuck around Belltown to attend.  The place was packed into the aisles and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

1110092104It’s refreshing to be reminded that other people aren’t from around here either. That they have the same difficulties that I do, that they have the same worries.  Why did I come out here, is this really what I thought my life would be, how did I end up doing this thing?  Seattle is starting to be my home, not just a place I am staying, and I like that.  My housemate this morning mentioned something to the same affect- that I am taking ownership of certain things in the house were before, I was tentative.  I think I have little patience for tentative action now.  I want grand gestures, I want exclamations and affirmations.  I want things put in containers and not just open glasses placed on a shelf in the fridge.

I also continually want to share this place. I am not from around here, but I claim this as my own. I want to show you the rain slicked streets, the light refracting off of the ground. I want to show you the crack along the horizon as the sun sets and the rain clears for just a moment.  I want you to smell the perfume and sweat on the bus, to see the leaf as it blows twelve stories above the ground past the office window. I want you to hear the rain dripping through the ceiling and pinging off of the displays in the Great Gallery. I want you to leap over dips in the sidewalk with me, I want you to dance in the kitchen with me, to laugh with me as I tumble down the stairs.

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