Happy Birthday Stephanie! I love you.
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I remember when my beloved and sardonic cousin Katherine, a Pittsburgh native, had just moved out to Seattle. I was in college. She sat on the grass at Carkeek park, surrounded by towering evergreens fecund with moss, watching ferry boats lit up like diamonds glide back and forth across the Puget Sound. A train rumbled by, the Starlight Express, its many glowing windows becoming one illuminated streak against the dark water. "Disgusting," she said again. "In Pittsburgh, a park is a square of grass."
I know what she means. The Pacific Northwest is absurdly photogenic, and the only thing that could make it more so is traveling with someone whose flaming red hair creates the perfect jolt of contrast to the infamous Washington trichrome: dark blue, dark green, dark grey. Which is to say, poor David: I asked for ten thousand pictures. I must have driven him crazy.
Since the time we booked the flight (thanks to a happy little overbooking mishap that led to two free flights from Delta) I had been harboring this image of being on the airplane, looking down on the lights of Seattle for the first time in nearly two years, grasping David's hand and weeping quietly. The tears would run down my face and yet I'd say nothing, stoic and lost in memory, and David would find that he, too was overcome with emotion. "My fiance is such a beautiful mystery," he would think, awestruck.
But that's not exactly how it happened. We learned upon arriving in Charlotte that morning that my reservations had been mysteriously cancelled, no explanation offered, and so we were rerouted on a convoluted pathway across the country, slowly working our way west. At each layover I consoled myself with a bloody mary, then a few more on the plane, and by the time we ducked beneath the thick cloud cover and the lights of downtown sparkled into view, David was asleep on his tray table and it was all I could do to keep from vomiting.
I didn't, but that feeling clung to me for two days and then there was a chili cook off and then I did.
Ammen and Steph had graciously offered to host us, and they threw a parade the day after we arrived. It had been Ella's idea, their three year old daughter, and the whole neighborhood got into it. Steph said we could dig through her costume box and dress up as Thing 1 and Thing 2 from a Dr. Seuss book. I've always wanted to wear a matching costume with David, but by the time we got home from our morning of hunting for sea glass at Golden Gardens, someone had taken one of the Things. David looked noticeably relieved and dressed up as a banana instead.
When the parade was over and the grown-ups had taken off their costumes and were conversing over chili and beer, Dave remained in the suit. He said it was pretty comfortable in there. I loved watching him make small talk with all the neighbors, them in their puffy vests and scruffy beards, the Northwest get-up, him inside his giant banana. I don't think I could possibly feel more delighted by another person. But otherwise, I was fading. I felt terrible, achy and weepy like you do the day before you get the flu. I chalked it up to a stressful few months, work, jet lag. I swung in the hammock, screwed my eyes shut and tried to will myself to feel better.
But the coffee tasted sour the next morning and I felt drained of all energy. I tried to soldier through and give David a hardy tour of the city, my favorite city, my home for over ten years. The gum wall, Pike Place, Discovery Park, the original Starbucks (to which he showed a sincere and inexplicable interest) the Ballard Farmers Market and the best Vietnamese food in the ID. Seattle classics and my old college haunts, the beach with the view of the olympics, Mt. Rainier posing as a cloud in the distance. And to my credit I took him to most of these places, dragging and pale, hanging on his shoulder and finally just lying down in the middle of a parking lot, and then I knew I was done for.
Somehow I managed to drive 40 blocks through Seattle's infamous super grand-slam traffic, dashed down the spiral stair case and made it to the bathroom without a second to spare. I threw up, a lot, then curled up on the floor like a rodent and begged for death.
I'm not exaggerating, that's really what I do when I have the stomach flu. You probably do too.
(That will be for next time. I fractured my right hand last week, the 5th metacarpal. So they tell me. But I don't think it's so bad. Either way I am typing this solely with my lazy, untrained left hand, and I think it's about had it for the day.)
But first, the winner of the salt water mystery prize! Thank you for letting us know how it's going, everybody. It's been so nice to catch up.
I'm...I dunno actually. I'm looking forward to summer when I plan on getting each of my kids their first bike. Pretty sad that my 12,10,8 and 6 year olds don't have their own bikes but money has always been tight. This spring I am saving hard though and we are going to hit the trails all summer. I'm focusing hard on that since winter has been going on forever here in Eastern Canada. As I type, the snow is gently hitting the window. It's rather pretty but I feel like I'm at the starting line of Spring just waiting for the pistol to go off. Pull the trigger Mother Nature!
Congratulations! I hope that by now, two weeks later, spring has made it to the northeast, with summer right on its heels. I'm so happy that my blog brings you peace, and I'm so excited for you and your kids- my bike brings me a lot of happiness. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get you all sorted out.
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