Old Town

Old Town
Pioneer Square

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Block 2: How to See Seattle: Part 2

One by one, the pictures start to crystallize in mind. Capitol Hill. My Seattle.

I see a city brimming with brio, spunk and attitude. As I struggle with my picture of a place I've never been, I'm drawn to seek visual echoes of parts of other towns. I think of San Francisco when I view the Puget Sound, the mountains and the steeply angled streets. Capitol Hill reminds me a bit of both North Beach in San Francisco and the Village in New York. I may go on to find echoes of NY's Upper East or West Side...SF's toney Union St. This is natural enough, I'd think: a defensive mechanism against a sense of total estrangement. But I'm keeping my mind straight about this as well. For I can't see Seattle truly if I'm focused on repeating some other place I've lived.

So even while I cozy up from 3000 miles away I need to seek out the strange heart of this town. I need to draw a better bead on what makes Seattle unique. At the same time I must search for ways to best enter the life of Seattle as it really is. Just so, I may seek qualities I loved in people from my past--but I mustn't force my memories on the histories of new people I meet. Revere the best while embracing the new and living in the present.

I see Elliott Bay Book Company:

Seattle's most famous independent bookstore was founded in 1976. It relocated from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill in May, 2010. Here it houses 150,000 titles on cedar shelves and sponsors a robust number of author readings and events. Imagine how this calls to a man living in a city without one major indie bookstore. Now imagine how this calls to a man who'd worked for ten years in the business.
    Though I've been away from the trade a long time, my two best job experiences were at world-class indie bookstores. But Atlanta's Oxford Books went bankrupt...Portland's Powell's City of Books just wasn't a good fit for me...and I drifted into dull, meaningless work, convinced that I'd run out of options. No, I'd run out of vision. Now I see a chance to rejoin the Holy War and fight on the side of the indies. I see myself surrounded not only by books but people who love reading them and people who love writing them.

--I see Vegan restaurants:

I reached peak physical condition as The San Francisco Kid in the 1980s. Moving there, I stopped drinking and began working out while I followed a mostly raw diet. Men and women whistled when I walked the streets. But a move to New York and a bad marriage sent me plummeting hard from the peak. And the South hasn't been conducive to a health nut diet. Oh, there's no going back in time--and I wouldn't if I could. But I can return to something close to S.F. Kid condition by working out and eating as I used to eat.

--I see a wealth of great cafes:

For a man who's lived and loved in two cities with wonderful indie cafes, Seattle sounds a clarion call. I dig cafe society and only now realize what I've been missing since Portland, Seattle's pretty but flat-chested sister. Go West, you laptop hobo--and be certain to always tip well. 

So, a theme's emerged in this second part: seeing in Seattle a chance to recover the best of the lost while I stay true to today.

Till part 3!

Action Log
4/17: Sometimes it helps to see Seattle by taking yourself by surprise. Today at dawn I bolted up, fearing my playbook's still not bold enough. I'm on schedule, yes, and proceeding apace. But where's the Caesar in my soul? What's with these niggling fears and doubts? Caesar crossed the Rubicon while I'm gingerly wading across a small ford. Get in gear! Act like a king to become one! I bounded up and tackled a task I'd set for May: condensing and fitting my DVDs and CDs into a single box...just as I did with my books for box one. Two boxes remain: for personal and professional papers, notebooks, manuscripts. I've been putting this task off because I know what a huge mess awaits me. But, with Caesar's help, I'll start next week. Hey, who knows, maybe Cleo will join us.

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