In the 1900 block of Fifth Avenue, two towers of the Westin Seattle rasp the sky, two beehives of concrete and winking glass. Each tower, north and south, has forty-six floors containing thirteen rooms. On the thirty-eigth floor of the north tower at 42 minutes past dawn, I admire the cool blue vista as the city melts into a May morning. Muscular clouds thwart the emptiness of the sky. A glittering boa of headlights, ever weaker, marks the trek of commuters.
When I came to Seattle, it was raining. Wind minced the Sound into frothy whitecaps. The Sheraton did not have room for us, so we got wet and chilled jumping in and out of taxis until we settled like damp birds at the Westin. In light of the weather, I decided to skip the trip to the original Starbucks and Pike's Fish Market, where I am told they juggle halibut like a nautical Cirque de Soleil. After a steaming shower, I felt restored enough to appreciate the simple fact that it was raining in Seattle (have you ever known the joy of a place being true to character?), and to enjoy the invigorating view of mountains that wreathe the city like a promise of grandeur.
I took the bus to Yarrow Point, just around the corner from where the Microsoft barons subsist in a 66,000 square foot auditorium (for surely such a dimension cannot be a house!). Wesley Jo came and found me. She took me off to her rented house onto the shore of Lake Washington. The first thing I saw was a pink dogwood tree rejoicing in the backyard. The second was Raymond, her husband, who looked, as always, like a male clothing advertisement, even in a Rosie the Riveter apron. "We can do it!" the apron proclaimed while he gave me a hug and went to make sure he had not burned the tortillas.
How can I say it? It is good to be among old friends. It is like finding a forgotten picture of yourself in which you look surprisingly young and happy.
After a dinner of ceviche ("This is only a variation of ceviche," Raymond demurred, "a Mexican sort of ceviche" as if to temper my enthusiasm) and shrimp fajitas, we retired to the living room to read the compline by candelight, pressed arm to arm beneath a quilt, and then to look at their wedding pictures. A beach of parchment sand on Florida's eastern shore. A loose and easy sunset. Shoeless vows. Seagrass, tender fingers on the guitar, and a raucous tango on the hard-bought wooden dance floor.
The showed me the sanctuary where they and Mary hold contemplative services on Sunday mornings after breakfast, a fellowship of three. Raymond laid out for me his animal skins, a zebra and a blue wildebeest (he did not bother with the ostrich), with which he plans to upholster some chairs.
Over some petite servings of chocolate ice cream, they asked me how I am handling my twenties. Hmm. I do not yet know whether I am comfortable addressing my life in decades instead of the usual increments. A season, at most a year.
The blues are now clear greens, translucent yellows, muffled greens and baked burgundies. The wind dies, and the American flag on a neighboring building hangs now like a limp hand, now like a salutation to someone it might recognize.
Starbucks baristas brew venti caramel macchiatos on a hundred street corners. Seagulls wheel far below me to pick up the crumbs of someone's dry croissant. Traffic moves. I sigh and yawn and smile. Another day, another banquet. Good morning, Seattle.
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