Monday, December 8, 2008

Leaving Seattle: 1987

Spring came to Seattle and I was doing better. It was still gray and rainy most of the time, but there were days of sun, days of seeing the Olympic range out our window and towering Mt. Rainier from the streets. I began to write. And draw. And go for runs along Puget Sound at Seward Park where the big ships came in to unload grain and whatnot.
I was still depressed, but it was a more positive depression.
When I'd first come to the Emerald City, I worked as a busboy at Dukes, not far from our crazy apartment/house in Queen Anne on 1st Avenue West near the Space Needle. Then I'd worked for Brock's dad at his print shop next door (ADSCO Printing). But then I'd gone to Bellingham and failed and came back and then Matt had convinced Brock's dad that we should remodel the apartment (which he owned--a house really with upstairs and down, the down used as storage for the shop, the up a great place because it looked out over the Sound and was in a newly hip part of town), so I went to "work" doing just that.
You've got to understand the living situation. Brock had a room and Matt had the couch and I had the floor. There was one bathroom with only a tub. There was an attic, which we eventually made into a new bedroom, which Matt took and I got the couch. The only kitchen was downstairs among the stacks of printing supplies, so we'd cook downstairs, go out the front door and then in the second door which led up a narrow staircase to the door which led into the bombed-out apartment. When I say bombed-out, it's because the place was old and a wreck and was a complete toxic disaster when we started remodeling it. Matt had worked construction but didn't really know everything he was doing. We had walls torn down and sheets of plastic up and bare floors and dust and debris always everywhere. We lost half of our living space on day 1. But we muddled through. Matt and Brock worked days somewhere else (Brock for his dad) and I stayed at the "house" setting my own hours, drinking lots of coffee and writing. When I came back from Bellingham, I set up Brock's card table in a corner, got out his typewriter and began a few stories. I also began to draw a lot. Not that I'm very good, but I'm a decent sketcher and I drew a series of nudes--many of them funny--and began to post them on the wall each day or so. (Brock's father came in once, glanced over, glanced again, looked, and was embarrassed by the many nudes, some quite graphic, some cartoonish.) But I was doing better, but it became time to leave.
I wasn't broke. I loved Seattle. Was still friends with Matt and Brock (though the relations were starting to strain, Matt was starting to head into troubled substance abuse). But, it was time. Was going nowhere and when I'm going nowhere my urge is to go somewhere different. I knew I'd end up going back to the panhandle in Florida, but first I thought it best to go back to Des Moines (not exactly going somewhere different, but you get the idea). So, I said my goodbyes, packed and got in my ugly powder blue Ford Maverick and drove east, to Montana.
I must have spent the night somewhere, but from Missoula I headed south, down I-15, past Dillon and the state line and into Idaho where it became dark. Dark and lonely. A night at a very cheap motel in Pocatello. From there I drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, looked around, hit the road on little highways under clear skies. Took my shirt off and drove, school bus full of girls drove past, they all staring at me smiling and I so lonely and horny I stared back even though I was virtually an old man to them. It was a long drive. Took the route through Sundance into Nebraska and that groovy country around Scottsbluff and back into the familiar farmlands of the midwest and to Des Moines.
Once again, I lived in my parent's basement, worked weird jobs, saved some cash and caught up with my old buddies and women (those left). But I also wrote. Used a computer for the first time--borrowed from my older brother Michael, an Apple--and made some headway on that front. But I dreamt of Seattle, put it in perspective, and also dreamt of Grayton Beach, Florida.
I chose Florida by August or so.
But that's a different story among many piecemeal stories that all have connective tissue and a similar ring when put together. Sure, I returned to Seattle--as a visitor--when I lived in Montana with Fru. We were even married in Seattle. And though my times there were a comeuppance in a way, a demarcation from the fun days into more serious ones, a taking of stock as to who I was and where I was headed and what I really wanted to do, a bad time masked in good--maybe a good time masked by bad--I still love Seattle.
It's my favorite American city.

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