Sicko in Seattle

Seattle held out for 48 hours. For two days, nothing but sunny skies and fall-like temps. Football weather, some would say. We rambled through the city, hitting some favorite spots and a few new ones. Lovely!

Seattle has heart.

Everyone got annoyed with me, of course, because of my obsessive need to take photos, and how I kept forcing my friends to pose this way and that. They were mostly accommodating, but drew the line at leaning against the Gum Wall, Seattle’s latest landmark, which kind of reminds me of the Lennon Wall in Prague, but not really. Sigh. Who cares if it’s among the top 5 germiest tourist attractions, anyway?

As always, Tom was as sweet as can be, patiently following us along while carrying our shopping bags, so we could shop, shop, shop, and not be weighed down with all those, ahem, purchases. And shop, we did, as Pam was wont to remind me, that it is our noblesse oblige to support the vendors of Seattle and help stimulate the economy.

But then, after two days, everything changed. And by everything I mean it rained and got cold.

Miserably cold.

Wet cold.

And then I got sick.

Miserably sick, and insufferably sick.

Greta-Garbo-as-Camille sick.

If you ask me, no one should be around me when I succumb to a cold. That’s when I sink into the depths of despair, feeling every tickle in my throat, every ache in my body and pang in my head, while the mucus steadily builds up in my nasal passages, bursting forth in a cacophony of sneezes. Woe is me!

Starry, starry Seattle.

Luckily, I had two Florence Nightingales tending to my every whim, err, need: Pam and her daughter, Twin 1. They darted to and fro between the kitchen and my death bed, aka, a very comfy chair in the living room and, as quick as the tiny fairies in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, they brought me mugs of hot apple cider, toast and jam, cough drops, cold medicine, mentholated balm to rub on my nose, tissues, and a heated rice bag to wrap around my neck. Add to that oodles of blankets, a footrest so to keep my legs up, and wooly socks to keep my tootsies toasty, I must say, there are worse ways to suffer a malady.

As you can imagine, I didn’t get to do all on my Seattle dream list, which would’ve proven difficult as I’d forgotten just how chilly and wet Seattle can be. But, true to form it was cheeky fun spending time with the ol’ gang—Pam and Twin 1 and Twin 2, who brought along her roommate; Pat, who kept us organized; and Tom, who I learned is a world-renowned collector of seashells, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Pee-wee Herman.

I also got to catch up with–for the first time in 25 years–Pam’s sister and her hubby who drove all the way from eastern Washington, across the Cascades Mountains, over the river and through the woods, just to see me! (Okay, not really. They actually came for a Husky football game, but I’m almost positive that seeing me was a highlight of their weekend. 🙂 )

And on my last full day in town, achy and clogged-headed as I was, I had lunch with Clare, who’s busy working on all sorts of writing projects!

The Highlights:

  • Alder wood king salmon at Ivar’s
  • Visiting my old place of work
  • Browsing the kiosks of Pike Place Market and adding to my collection of art and jewelry
  • Eating out a lot, once at an old fashioned hamburger stand where you drive up, park and a waiter comes out to take your order. Only thing missing were waiters on roller skates

    Signs of autumn.

  • Buying lots of chocolates at the Dilettante Cafe and then eating some, despite having purchased them as gifts
  • Discovering Miranda, a British television comedy series that is gads of fun and laughs
  • Exploring the University District
  • Seeing a movie, Perks of Being a Wallflower, which was delightful and very poignant

Biggest change since I was last in Seattle? It is now law that you must bring your own shopping bag wherever you shop, something I kept forgetting, of course. In San Diego, bringing your own bag is still mostly optional, and bags are available for free.

Seattle, being so environmentally savvy is way ahead of the curve, and if you forget to bring your bag, you can get arrested!

Well, not exactly, but you do have to pay extra for a bag that you once got for free and everyone gives you dirty looks when you do. Also, everywhere we went, in addition to the trash and recycling containers, there were containers for composting. Composting! Even in the movie theater, though frankly, I can’t see stopping to sort out all your trash while leaving the darkened theater in a mad rush for the exit.

Hey Neighbor! And by the way, have you checked out my new blog yet?  It’s called, Hey Neighbor! I write about the ordinary people that make San Diego such an extraordinary place to live.

Well, dearies, I’m still not up to snuff. So, please enjoy these photos while I go and get comfy in bed, nursing myself back to health. How about you? What did you do while I was away?

Seattle is all about umbrellas.

These decorative pieces can last up to five years, but if you want to eat them, do it only during the first two.

Love is in the air–in Seattle, too!

Can you believe it? That’s gum–already chewed! Seattle’s Gum Wall is located in Post Alley under Pike Place Market. Hey kids, don’t even think of trying this at home!

We helped find this homeless bear a home.

A gathering of pots on a rare, sunny afternoon.

A house of blues.

Tom and his artful collection.

And One More:

Pee-wee at sunset.

The Road Taken: The Bluest Sky

Many of you who last week read my freshly-pressed post, Broken Hearts & The Road Not Taken, wondered what happened next, after leaving my life in Maryland behind. Here begins my story of the road taken.

CHAPTER 2:  When I arrived in Seattle, I had two suitcases, $100 in cash and little else.  Just five hours earlier, I had been standing in the JFK terminal, where my parents, older brothers and younger sister had all gathered to see me off. Of course, my parents didn’t want me to go, and I could see it in my mother’s forlorn face. But in the end, they supported my decision, though my papá did buy me a round-trip ticket. “Just in case you want to come home, hija,” adding, “It’s never too late to change your mind, tú sabes.”

We took snapshots by the terminal gate. There was my mother, whose eyes glistened with tears, and my father, whose anguish for me simmered just beneath his strained smile, while my siblings joked, teasing me one more time. César, my oldest brother, laughingly warned, “Timber–watch out for the lumberjacks!” Which is how we Medina’s imagined Seattle to be—filled with lumberjack men in plaid flannel shirts, amidst a forest of enormous, felled pine trees.

It was as if I was heading west in a stagecoach and would never see my family again.

As I prepared to board, I turned around one more time to look at them, trying to memorize their faces in that single moment. It was as though I was heading west in a stagecoach—and not in a jet—and would never see my family again. I was Laura Ingalls embarking on a new life. A regular pioneer gal. Only instead of Pa and Ma at my side, it would be G, the man who had once left me for another woman.  We were starting over, the second time around. Westward, ho!

I didn’t know anyone in Seattle but G. I had no friends, no relations, no job, and no bearings. I would be living in his home and dependent on his income while I looked for a job. His car had a manual shift, which I did not know how to use, but what difference did it make?  I had no place to go. Seattle was a long way from my east coast-centric life. I was almost 24 years old and all that was familiar wasn’t here. Westward, ho, indeed.

In fact, my only knowledge of Seattle was that the sky was supposed to be the bluest of all skies. This from an old TV series, Here Come the Brides about three lumberjack brothers, and their lumberjack pals, who were lonely because there were few women in town. So they had them brought in, a bevy of mail-order brides via Pony Express or something like that, and I couldn’t help wonder if history was repeating itself. Anyway, the lyrics of the show’s theme song went like this:

“The bluest sky you’ve ever seen, in Seattle.

And the hills the greenest green, in Seattle.”

And though the sky didn’t look any bluer than the skies back home, the annoying ditty kept going through my head during my first few weeks there.  G met me at the airport and was all smiles, excited to show me what was to be my new home. As we drove to the house he lived in, he pointed out landmarks: Mt. Rainier, Puget Sound and the Space Needle.  No matter where I looked I saw greenery–certainly the “greenest green” as the song indicated–that I felt at once how prominent a role nature must play here in people’s lives, something I’d never given a thought to before. Here, it was impossible to take the abundance of nature for granted, and soon I was mesmerized by the mountains, the dense and unusual foliage—such as the monkey tail trees and foxglove—the deep colors of the bougainvillea, sweet peas and bleeding heart flowers, the steep hills, and the countless bodies of water, visible wherever you turned.

We’d be living in the University District, by the University of Washington, where G was working in a lab, within walking distance of the campus. G was renting a room in a house among a row of similar homes with ample porches and roomy kitchens, though this particular house was located just under a freeway off-ramp. G told me how several months earlier, a bus took the ramp too fast, hurled off and slammed into a neighbor’s backyard. Everyone on the block was shaken by the late night crash and stumbled out of bed to watch the removal of the totaled bus. Luckily, there was no one on board except the driver, and he survived with barely a scrape and a broken rib.

As we approached the street which I would now be calling home, I felt a pang of dread.  As happy as I was to see G, I wasn’t looking forward to meeting my new housemates, Stan and his girlfriend, Jeannette, and, most of all, Marigold, who may or may not have dated G prior to my arrival. I had suspicions but G assured me that he and Marigold were just good friends.  And just like that, brushing aside my unspoken questions, he grabbed my bags from the backseat of the car and led me inside.