It is the city I grew up next to. The city where my father has worked almost all my life. The city with the magical skyline. It is where I bought my fake ID when I was 16 (sorry, mom. no worries, tho. it never worked, anyway.). It held our high school proms. It is where I ate the best clam chowder of my life. It is where I ice skated at Christmas time. The city where I kissed my husband at the top of the Space Needle on senior prom night The city of many, many memories. It is also the city in which there were lots of doctor appointments in. The city that spawned panic attacks thinking about it. The city that could not help my daughter survive. The city where my Vanessa took her last breath.
It took a long, long time to go near the city again.
I had no desire at all to visit the city after Vanessa died. Just being near the city, or having to go past the James Street exit, gave me panic. It still does, sometimes, and I avert my eyes when it comes, and hold my breath in until we've passed that exit. Every time. It will haunt me forever, I suppose.
I just did not want to go near that area of the city, or anywhere within a ten mile radius of it, so I stayed away from the city for almost ten years, waiting, until my feet could stand a little sturdier, and memories wouldn't wash away whatever joy was to be had that day. Almost ten whole years.
This week, I was finally able to take the past, and put it snug away in my back pocket. It was there, but hidden. Kept safe and out of site while we enjoyed the day. I felt it, it squirmed a little, but stayed put, right where I wanted it.
Grace was on spring vacation this past week, and badly wanted to do one thing: Visit the International District. In the City.
International District, you, say? Yes. She wanted a pretty fan. And chopsticks, too. So, Jeremy took the day off, and we headed to the big city via the Metro.
Now, Jeremy, is a serious country mouse. I watched him at the bus stop, just as excited as Grace, to have a day in the city. He looked anticipatory and a bit out of place, being the country mouse that he is. On the bus, we sat facing the side of the bus which thrilled Grace, and instantly made me nauseous. "It was not what she expected," she told me. "It felt like a Disneyland ride!" she said, grinning. I gave her the thumbs up and a grin on my green face.
Jeremy stuck his long legs out and read the paper. I could tell he was so happy not to be driving. His cousin boarded the bus on the ferry, and Jeremy, with his loud voice announced to him (and the whole bus) that it was his very first ride on the Metro, ever! Country mouse, I tell you. Half the bus looked at him and gave a snortle. I don't think he noticed.
We chatted with his cousin, and met his new girlfriend as we enjoyed the ride. I panicked a little as we entered the city not knowing exactly where to get off at, so I followed the bulk of riders that exited off the most popular stop, the lemming that I am.
"Where are we?" Jeremy asked.
"Dunno. But I saw Pike Place, so I think we should head down there."
So we did.
I do love the market.
We got there early enough that the crowd didn't pull you along just yet, so we grabbed a bite and just people watched and listened to music.
Breakfast of champions. Worth the stomach ache that followed.
The music was great. There was this collective lightness it gave the crowd, especially with favorites belted out such as Yellow Submarine, and Chasing Cars. One guy was singing the popular song "Little Lion Man" by Mumford and Sons. I caught Jeremy's eye right before the chorus as we were both wondering what he would substitute for the bleeped out parts.
No substitutions. Dude, we're in the city.
And of course we had to oogle at the seafood.
Soon, the market became a noisy crowded place as we moved deeper in. I had told Grace about some of the history of the market being a bit haunted and all, so she was on the hunt for ghosts.
She was disappointed that we didn't find any, and made me promise to bring her back in October for the ghost tour. weeee'lll seeee, leeetle oneee.
We did find some treasure to bring home, back to the country. A blown glass pumpkin I couldn't pass up. A bouquet of market flowers. Yummy overpriced pasta. Dark chocolate sea salt caramel sauce. A snow globe. And a new star for Gracie's room:
The blue star is now in her window. A lil' bit of the city.
Then, we moved up from the bowels of the Market back into the daylight to meet my dad at the pig, and go out to lunch.
We decided to go to Lowell's, made famous from the movie Sleepless in Seattle. I don't remember it in the movie, but the fish and chips were very yummy, and the view, spectacular.
My favorite place of the day was this olive oil, balsamic tasting room. The whole store was just olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I could have spent hours in there, but I was on family time, so I had to make it quick!
My dad and Grace waiting oh, so patiently.
It was then time for Grace to make a decision. Hop on a bus and head to the International District, or head to the waterfront where she spied the carousel while lunching at Lowell's, and buy a fan and chopsticks at the Market. No brainer. We headed down to the waterfront, after purchasing the fan.
There was a Big moment, before getting on the carousel. Another nod to Tom Hanks for the day.
After many rounds of skee ball, and taking an hour to pick prizes out from the winnings ( a birthstone ring and a whoopee cushion), it was time to meander to Starbucks and hop on the foot ferry.
You so silly, Seattle.
We were offered a ride. Even complimentary Pandora from an ipod he rigged up for our listening pleasure. Today, we're on foot. Maybe next time. : )
And then, it was time to board the ferry.
Back to the country, for us country mice.
The city will always hold hurt, but it can also bring new joy to that pain. For now tho, I will tread lightly, and visit on the days when the hurt is not so surfaced.
I will take some city home with me, all bottled up. I will give it a shake when I want something beautiful out of it, and trade it for the hurt.