Staying Awake in Seattle: A 21-Day Salute™

There is a reason they call it uprooting yourself.

If you've never moved, you have no idea what I'm talking about, and if you have, you're know exactly what I'm talking about: that weird feeling that you've landed on another planet, where the ordinary rules of gravity and suchlike don't apply. You can walk, because your legs still work, but you're taking in so much information that it all feels new, like the first time you walked (I think, really, I can't remember that far back.)

You pull into a parking space and you're not sure if it's a legal space because they mark things differently, so you feel even more unbalanced as you go to check out your new place, the place you will call home for the next few weeks. And it's fine: you have not, in fact, landed on another planet, but on a very thin slice of this very same planet, which happens to have stairs and running water and windows and walls and floors just like your own slice.

Still, this is not your own slice. The strange smells and sights that assault you at every turn assure you of that. You are an alien; you are here by the grace of something other than you. This ain't you, babe.

So you unpack your stuff. And as you obsessively unzip and unpack and plug in and turn on (narrating the whole damned thing like your Big Move is a show on the National Geographic channel), you of course think of Carlin and his stuff. And you wonder about all the other people who move around all the time, and how they make their nomadic whistle-stop lives feel grounded and substantial.

You fuss and muse and make a few calls (because those lifelines to other worlds, they are grounding) and finally, you decide to take one of the homegrown maps your absent host, your Ghost Host!, has drawn for you and walk for provisions (and definitely walk, because you'll be goddamned if you'll get back in that car and drive up disorienting hills after three days on the road, only to return to find the maybe-parking space is gone and now you've got to find the dark.

It's beautiful here. Even tired/jazzed and disoriented, you can't help but notice. Around every corner is another picture-postcard view. And different from the picture-postcard views you're used to, with their Hollywood signs and magic-hour lighting on the palm trees, so you really see them.

The store is not your store, but it has food like your store. Food so like your store, you try your customer affinity card at the checkout, and are secretly delighted that it works. (Secretly, because you have no one to tell; you've made a friend of the checker, who is also a SoCal transplant, but she left San Berdoo eons ago and it is her job now to talk to the wobbly and disoriented of all stripes.)

You feel a little better walking back. You've walked this way once, so it's already less unfamiliar. You start to think about how in a few weeks, maybe a few days, it will feel familiar. You need to mark this, the feeling, and sit in it, and for god's sake, don't rush past it.

And then you look left. A giant spire, lit up like Christmas, looks back at you. Points toward the rest of a sweeping vista, a carpet of lights ringed around a bay. For you. Here. For you.

This is why you haul your ass out of town. This is why you leave things and change things and try things. For the feeling of imbalance. For the reminder that you're just a floating speck on a floating leaf. For the occasional glimpse of beauty that's both shockingly new and hauntingly familiar.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am here in Seattle to wake myself the fuck up the rest of the way. Done what I could where I could; now I let my new, host circumstances take care of the rest.

We shall see what we shall see.

xxx c