I have been adding on to this over the past two weeks or so so the chronology is a little more extended than it appears here:
“Now say you were this lady’s brother and you heard some guy put his hand down her pants. Wouldn’t you feel something needed to be done?” This is a quote from my neighbor two mornings ago at about eight in the morning. He has cornered me about this personal issue that has befallen him, but I basically asked to be cornered. Well, I guess I did if asking why there was a police car in his driveway the night before would be asking for it. I just wanted a heads up on what was going on in the neighborhood. So let me define more clearly this man’s analogy. He was asking me to step into his shoes. In this situation, he is the brother, but what is strange is the sister in this predicament is the woman he is seeing. I had met her previously. The first time I had seen her was when I was moving into my apartment. She was for some reason desperately stumbling through his front door at 8 pm on a Sunday. The second time was when she apologized to me for being, “such a bitch,” the previous night. I had had no interaction with her the night before. I had no clue what she was referring to which made it easier to say she had not been a problem. I did not hear anything from next door that previous night. Something made her catch hellfire then I guess. It took me a while to find a way out of this conversation. I thought I would be late to work, but what instead I discovered was a more comfortable bus ride to work. Instead of taking the much more populated express bus downtown, I took the local, had a more comfortable ride, and got to work right on time. Such is the way of my life right now. I bumble along. Things kind of go however they want, and I get some kind of rush in one form or another from this new chaotic experience. There’s no real rhythm to any of it besides the rhythm of the random.
This past month or so has been filled with all sorts of unique things. It has taken time to grow any kind of stability. Crafting an apartment that actually feels like home takes a lot out of you when you are working full time with split days off plus a little volunteering. I avoided spending a lot of time in the apartment at first. It wasn’t so much about being lonely but instead it was a feeling of going stir crazy. It did not feel comfortable. I had half a kitchen in terms of utensils (ie. I just rented a car to go on an IKEA run that included the purchase of pots and pans), and a box or two still blocked a clear path across the floor of my bedroom. After strolling across Ballard last night, it became the most readily apparent moment of my brief time here for realizing that I am actually living inside the city limits of Seattle. I spent my night walking down Ballard Ave and onward to the Locks. Ballard Ave is a neat street. There is a lot going on there. All sorts of treats for a beginner foodie to explore. There are a lot of people there just having a night out and walking around like myself. I did not feel alone. The weather was great, and people were happy and excited to be outside.
There have been moments of loneliness, which is to be expected when you live alone, but I think it is about being prepared for it. If you can see it coming, you can learn ways to avoid it. I take myself out of the apartment on purpose. I do not spend full days just lounging about in my bedroom. This was the point of renting a studio. I did not want a place so comfortable that I was too comfortable to leave it. I want interaction with the city. I have no where to really sit outside right at my apartment, and this is fine because there is plenty of green space in Seattle to go do something as simple as lay out and read. I found myself last week feeling more isolated and lonely then ever, but it was comforting to be able to deal with it by walking forty five minutes to the edge of the Sound and see the sun set over the Olympic Mountains.
There have been moments of loneliness, but there have also been moments of realization and self-awareness. There was a homeless man who singled me out at the bus stop a few weeks ago amongst two other people there waiting. He was wearing an old Seattle Supersonics jacket, and his spiel went something like this as I stood there listening to my iPod. My head was facing the ground while trying to avoid eye contact:
“Keep your head up man. Keep your head up. What’s life about anyway…….Drink? (He counts with his fingers)…..Fuck?……….Eat?…….Keep your head up. Keep your head up.”
Afterward, I looked to my fellow bus stop waiters, and we all wondered why I looked special. Honestly though, his words of wisdom and motivation worked way better than they would have coming from any prospective motivational speaker I could envision. If a homeless person is telling you to keep your chin up, that’s worth a listen.
There have been other moments of realization coming down different avenues as is fitting to the rhythm of the random. I remember watching three or four sets of different fireworks going off from SeaTac Airport on the 4th of July. That was a unique vision and something I won’t probably ever see again. At other times, I have found myself wanting to dance just for the sake of dancing. If I lose myself to the music even for just a second, that second of pure meditation, then I succeeded. This has happened to me at a bar with live music, but this has also happened to me at 8 am, my headphones on, and I’m standing downtown in Seattle waiting for my bus transfer. Both instances have had equal importance for my meditative purposes.
This past month and a half has been about me regaining my step. It has been about me finding my pace and remembering how to reset that pace. It’s been a struggle at times to remember how to maintain that rate and find the reason for maintaining it, but there are often reminders, if you are paying close attention to your surroundings, which show you the most simple reasons for doing so. I am privileged to watch the multiple species of Pacific salmon climb up out of Puget Sound and back into freshwater for spawning at the Fish Ladder at the Ballard Locks. You walk across the locks, then down below the water’s surface into a concrete chamber with a viewing window, and right there are all the salmon, pushing against the current, trying to climb up stream. “What’s the point of them doing this?” I often ask myself. Of course there are elaborate answers for this. The need to reproduce. The need to survive and move forth, but no matter what you want to add to it, the reason is they need to do so just because. I don’t know what those fish are thinking or processing, but it’s clear to me, they move forward because that’s what their drive tells them to do. At our most simplistic level, we are no different. Move forward. Keep moving onward. We have no other choice.