An Essay on Seattle
It's a change from California, this Seattle thing. There have been difficulties, but the benefits outweigh the troubles by far. I was never certain if California was my home; arid and dry, it unsettled me to look at mountains covered in constant brown, or feel the dying heat of the desert on the back of my neck. But the wind, the wonderful Santa Ana winds - those I will miss deeply.
Seattle is a green city, a growing city. The kind of city that after the apocalypse will be overrun by jungle and vine, dragged down like an Incan temple beneath wild, rambunctious growth. I can see it, the trees edging toward the highway when we aren't looking, whispering among their branches that we move too swiftly - but change even more slowly than they do. I look out across the water and see shore on the far side. It's the first time I've ever lived near a sound or a great lake rather than the spreading waves of the sea. It's odd knowing that beyond that shore lies only a small strip of land and then a great ocean, the earth slowly slicing away. Seattle is holding hands with the sea with long, elegant fingers.
The highways of this city are short, blundering passages twisted like a stumbling calf's trail through the woods. What she lacks in grace, Seattle makes up for with wildness, inside and out; her choice of greenery, her broad and active port, the thrumming of music just beneath the audible range that hangs in the wind. Her buildings rise up from lush movement, thrusting everyone together like the proverbial island fortress and where she cannot expand outward - Seattle reaches up to the angels. Like my beloved Tokyo - up is life, up is growth, up is sky and freedom and release. Seattle bows o-jigi (???) at a sister across the sea. Water connects them both, the precious land beneath her feet running out with each advancement until there is nothing left... but up.
I'm already fond of Seattle. Even the thought of her long darkness, matching my own thoughts in cold months, does not frighten me. In the winter, she sleeps from 4 in the afternoon to 10 in the morning, rousing herself only long enough to greet the sun for lunch. Amazing resilience for someone who drinks this much coffee, I tell her. She chooses to ignore me, moving on to stare distantly at Canada, regarding another country with the casual air of an ex-lover that parted on good terms.
There are restaurants of all nationalities, small and large; a thousand independent movie theatres playing things that were never advertised and in languages you've never heard; music halls showing bands yet to be discovered, hoping for their shot at the brass ring. Los Angeles is callous about her success, taking for granted the stars nested in her bosom. Seattle still lauds hers, amazed at her own undiscovered talent. People are taking notice. The softly computerized voice of Microsoft whispers in her ear, guiding her motions with precise, mechanical hands that are distinctly at odds with the wild vines that grow in her air. It's a dichotomy that works because she has the youth, the beauty, the ambition to pull it off. Not many people could manage it. She makes it work - with flair.
I sit on my porch, looking out at the small pieces of the city visible through the grey haze, and I am glad to have come here. I gave her my hand, and she ran with me. I wonder if this is the feeling Socrates had when he said 'I am not an Athenian, or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.' Seattle holds some of that in her, that loyalty to her and through her to world around her. Her vibrant connection with life is my open passage to the world. It's here, in a very tangible way, still new and fresh and enthralled.
I don't know where Seattle will lead me, but I have a feeling she's trying to tell me something very important, and so I will stay with her whille she spins her tale. I'm a writer. It's what I do. I see the world two and three times over, watching each loop, each myth, through a different perspective. A version of history, reborn each time it is told.
Seattle's myth is still being told, and I hope, I will retell it time, and time again.