Seattle is a more solid place to me than Vancouver, no matter that I’m sitting in it. Here, I’m not real yet. I’m in a miniskirt, army green under black lace, way too short, and a black shirt, lace at the cuffs, ruffles down the front, both borrowed. I look like myself, but not at all. I’m feeling happy, content, surrounded by seventies decor. It makes me think of old photographs of Berkley. I feel like I could be anywhere in the western world.
Getting on the bus was easier than I thought it would be. There was no sense of loss, no sticking to my choice to watch the city go by as if it were the last time. Instead my book was comforting, a story I like well. My morning had been on schedule, my border crossing I had no worry for. When it came to the crunch, the guard was more interested in what I was reading than my identification.
After the border, there was a strike of lightning, a clap of thunder louder than the voice of mother to a child. I jolted awake, suddenly hallucinating that I was traveling with someone instead of just my black carry bag. Long in jeans I closed my eyes and refused to look until I felt them close a kiss upon my mouth. I have a terror of insanity, but when I opened my eyes to the expected absence of a lover, I felt fine. Something has changed, something’s been accepted. A moment of mystery, borne on everything I want to be. I made a decision.
Dropped off a block away from the EMP, I decided not to go in, but to take the pictures I felt I missed last time. Grinning, it was like I could see myself walking without needing light. I touched the building and felt set afire. Seattle a world apart from the one I knew, a piece of reality that anchored me. From last time, I knew my way around. Here is where I can get a walking map, here is where I’m tempted by a small brass statue of the tower for Andrew. No step taken was wrong, no word superfluous. The bus took me to where I wanted to be, the services I required were exactly as stingy as I’d thought they’d be.
Pike Place Market, I got there in time to walk through while it was closing, the endless rows of dollar tulips nodding as the proprietors of the stalls swept them up in white plastic buckets. Bouquets labelled five, ten, fifteen. I was tempted. Red, green, all of them fresh and light as perfect rain. Brocolli flower, vegetable hair the colour of school-book honey. My loves were right, it was the place I needed to go. At one closing stall I bought a plum for a dollar and kept walking, fingering cut silk scarfs and small creatures made of glass. I took a picture at one end and laughed when I saw someone do the same. There was nothing there at all special except for my being there. I guess they felt the same.
On transit to the airport, a man got on and sold CD players to the latino men sitting next to me. “Ten dollars for one, fifteen for two, twenty with batteries, do you want the batteries? Course you want the batteries. Where’s the other ten?” He had disposable razors too, a buck each, he said. Usually he had more or different things, same time next week. I was looked at kindly, as part of the conspiracy, and I appreciated it. “Good doing business with you.”
The airport was everything airports are meant to be, somewhere to stand and wait until your transportation arrives. There was a shuttle bus and easy directions to it, third floor, outside, bay one. Pick up the phone there, dial the number that you need. A pleasant voice answered, she said it would take four minutes. I watched carefully, reading the signs on every bus, worried that I would miss it, be unable to flag it down in time. My worries were unfounded, eventually it worked out fine. A pretty girl who got off the transit bus with me got on a moment later. We’re both in long black coats and individual jewelry, so we spoke briefly in the manner of new found acquaintances about how unsurprised we were that the other person would have the same destination. Her name is Anna and she’s experienced with conventions. Me, I’ve barely been. I don’t know what I’m walking into.
Already I know that I’m seeking culture shock to jar me from the rut my life is making in Vancouver. I’m grasping for something I know I can take, a life where I’m happier, a distraction against my constant feeling of suffocating. Entering the hotel does it for me. There are a hundred costumes, a hundred conversations bubbling around me like revelry. I feel underdressed almost immediately and that makes me grin. Anna finds her people or they find her, she’s known, her friends are all about here, so I walk on alone after promising to come to her party. I set out to seek Devon, an easy mark even in this sort of crowd, I figure. Look for the pirates, look for the swords. Height, the key is height. I sweep through a wide hall, take a cursory look at a hotel bar full of gremlins, fairies, and anime characters, and find a room of photographers, a woman holding her arms up to show off her demon wings.
Wrong direction, I decide, and turn back, looking for hallways to follow, looking for heads without bright raver wigs. The first table I come across has a sword on it and Devon behind it. People are still walking by in fantastic paints, jackets, bits of coloured leather and plastic, but I found what I was looking for. I win. My joy has caught up with my lifting courage. No matter later where I settle, I have found where I needed to go.