Thursday, January 31, 2008

return to the PNW

Today, I celebrate a first: I am in Seattle, and it is not raining (at least not as I type this). After my last soggy experience in the Pacific Northwest (see "The Canada Diaries" from July, 2007), I find the brief moment of semi-sunshine to be delightful. I arrived here yesterday on a nearly empty flight; there were 24 of us on a plane that seats 116. The extra room on the flight was consolation for the fact that I had left both cash and food in my friend's car, and would have to use an expensive airport ATM to get cash for a bus, then buy expensive airport food to break said bills. Sigh.

The Seattle public transit system provided the usual moments of bus hilarity. I asked the man next to me when my stop was going to be, only to have him chat my ear off in an Arkansas accent and with alcohol on his breath. Nearby, a teenager (maybe 17) alternated beween jabbering with her friend and sucking her thumb. Yes, you read that right: sucking her thumb. So wierd. A few rows behind her, sitting in the back, was a man who looked like he could have walked straight off the set of Fiddler on the Roof. I wanted to say l'heim! (um...I only know how to write that in Hebrew), but I resisted. I was most drawn to the two young backpackers a few rows up, and I was reminded that I, like most people, have the default button of retreating to that which is familiar.

When I got off the bus in downtown Seattle, I looked at Emily's directions to the public library, where I would wait for her: "Go south 4 blocks." Folks, I am from Colorado. Without the Rockies nearby, I have no idea which direction is South, so I asked directions from a Starbucks barista and headed off in the rain. Thankfully, the airline lost my luggage, so I didn't have to carry too much. (Seriously, not having to carry my luggage, then having it delivered that night is a good deal, if you ask me.) I spent the next couple hours wandering one of the most unusual (and cool) libraries I have ever seen, before meeting with my old friend and going out for some amazing Thai food. I fell asleep that night looking out my window at the Seattle sky line and the Space Needle, all aglow.

This morning, I decided to take a walk before hunkering down to do some work. I wanted to enjoy the fresh air, yes, but I also had a more important mission: coffee. Several blocks up the street, I came upon a durn good place to get groceries: the Durn Good Grocery (true story). After surveying the rather tragic coffee options, I asked the flaming man behind the counter if there was a coffee shop nearby, and he pointed me down the street; "Tell them Steve sent you, the guy from the Durn Good." I finally got my hands on some precious Brew at Irwin's, and headed back to Emily's. So here I sit, needing to get off blogger and start some homework.

These moments away from home, getting myself from here to there between meeting with friends and exlporing new places, are much needed, it seems. Not that I hopped a plane to Seattle to find myself. Still, my self-esteem has been wishy washy lately, and I know by now that it often comes down to a need to be reminded of who I am. It's a battle I have always fought, but it is nonetheless annoying each time I feel my footing get slippery and my heart panics. I forget my own skin and begin looking around me for definition,and that always leaves me a mess. So, as I began a few days ago, I still linger on the question: Who am I? What makes me tick? That post should be coming soon.

For now, I begin with one thing I do know about myself: I will forever be in love with the Colorado sunshine, no matter how much I love a cup of coffee in Seattle.

1 comment:

Katie said...

Man, I love Seattle! I was just there last weekend. I hope your time in the soggy city provides moments of reflection and inward processing.