Saturday, August 2, 2014

Seattle In Bits And Pieces

I finally made it back to Seattle. My wife and two daughters and I flew in from Chicago a couple of years ago. 2012, I guess. Summer. June.

We stayed at the Edgewater Hotel. We stayed only about three days before renting a car and driving down to Oregon and then on to Missoula, Montana . . . Anyway, Seattle.

Although my wife and kids and I did most of the requisite things while in Seattle (Space Needle, Pike Place Market, seafood--including geoduck--and riding the monorail) I also got up earlier than them each morning and walked about 'the old haunts', as they were, by my lonesome.

The 'Old Haunts As They Were' consisted of Lower Queen Anne, basically. I mean, I'd visited and stayed in Seattle as a young boy, with my family, when we lived in Vancouver, but that was then and my memory was better in my late twenties when I lived briefly in Lower Queen Anne with Brock and Matt on First Avenue West. So they were not the haunts of boyhood (if boyhood can have haunts) but rather the haunts of young adulthood . . . Of course my wife and I were married in Seattle--Gethsemane Lutheran Church downtown, March 1989--and spent our first honeymoon nights at Inn At The Market. We also visited often enough when we lived in Montana--so there are those haunts as well and we visited them together, in June 2012. We showed and told our kids . . .

So, I would get coffee at a shop near Seward park where I used to run. I ran because I'd just left Theresa (back in Florida) and had dropped out of the Iowa Writers Workshop (back in Iowa) and had driven by myself from the panhandle of Florida to L.A. to Seattle and I was very much adrift. This was 1987, if I remember correctly. But, back to 2012: coffee, a look at Puget Sound, then I'd trudge uphill in the cool/hot humidity to see what I used to see.

The Seattle Center--still there of course and one of the few places I can indeed connect to my boyhood. Queen Anne Boulevard, before the big hill, but most of the places I hung out were gone: The Ginza, Sorry Charlie's, The Sea Otter. I think Dukes was still there (I'd worked there for a while, not hung out) and the Irish Pub close to Dukes which I can't recall the name of . . . . But, the best of those places, was still there. The Mecca.

The Mecca was good for corned beef hash, for bloody mary's, beer, simple quiet eating and drinking. I think you could still smoke inside back then and Brock, Matt and I would go there often and sit in the booths and roll our own Drum cigs and eat, drink, talk, tell each other lies, believe in our own fantasies because to do otherwise would be too depressing. I did go to the Mecca and had corned beef hash )I couldn't finish my plate) and had a bloody mary (finished that) and read The Stranger. But I was alone. My wife and kids were back in bed at The Edgewater.

I visited the old apartment on First Avenue West, only it was completely gone and in its place was a spanking new bank of condos. It used to be an old house next door to ADSCO Print which was owned by Brock's father. Brock's father--a really nice guy, as is Brock--also owned the old house with the upstairs apartment. The bottom of the house was used for storage for the business except for the kitchen. The upstairs had no kitchen so we'd have to cook downstairs, take our food out the front door, go to the door that led upstairs, take our food up the steep narrow stairs and eat it there in the living room. What fun. I remember being up there where there was a large picture window (more or less) that looked out towards the Seattle Center (and the Space Needle) which was only a few blocks away. I remember seeing once a family park their car in the street--a man, woman, two small kids--who were headed for the Seattle Center with its museums and amusement rides, its gardens and Space Needle and such. They had no idea I was upstairs watching them and when the woman got out, she had to pause for a moment and then she vomited in the street. She did this ver calmly and nonchalantly and it took awhile for me to understand that she was pregnant (Again!) and that this was just normal for her. I still recall this, though it's not a big thing. Yet maybe it's because it finally gave me a inkling as to what women go through and men never do.

I walked to the old Safeway store that didn't look old anymore--where we used to buy cases of cheap Heidelberg beer (Rainier beer when we were feeling rich) and boxes of cheap fatty bacon bits-and-pieces that we'd cook up and toss into giant pots of grits. Mmmm. Dinner, not breakfast. Out the front door and in the side door and up the stairs . . . Anyway, there was really only one house left on the block and, lo and behold, it was Jerry Smith's grandma's old house. the house was empty and had a condemned sign on it. No doubt--two years later now--it has been torn down and there is a very nice condo (condos--os--I should say) there.

I went to the Metro market and wandered street. Did not go up the hill to see if the S&M Market was still there. Did not go other places. The revolving pink elephant car Wash sign was still there on Denny Way.

I could live in Seattle. A lot of people could live there and do live there. It's an expensive place, like most cities these days. I could and would live there but I doubt that I ever will.