Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Somewhere in Seattle

She is breaking all the rules.

She is wearing a bright, fuschia-pink skirt paired with a deep red sweater, a color combination I would never in a million years assemble. The knit skirt falls softly over the two hard mounds that are her rear. There is a swagger to her walk, a tilt to the hips, that distinctly says, I have just been fucked. Most decidedly, most thoroughly, fucked. As she walks, jauntily, with her left hand she smokes and with her right, she holds her boyfriend’s hand. She is wearing Birkenstocks. Slightly duck-footed. Bare, white legs, no effort expended on tanning them. The back of her head turns as she looks up at her boyfriend. Another inhale on the cigarette. A laugh. More jaunt to the walk.

I want to be this girl.

Following behind, I suddenly do not want to return home. I want to keep walking, to miss my plane, to disappear seamlessly into the Seattle foot traffic. I do not care about my children, my loving husband, my job. I want to be a street person, no responsibilities, no worries.

There. That building. I can stop in there, tell them I’m a writer. What do they need? I can edit their brochures, remove unnecessary apostrophes, add commas where needed. Surely that would be enough to buy my dinner each night at the market? And then some. Enough to hand a dollar to every homeless person I meet each day. I will be the Seattle benefactor; from whence she comes is unknown, to where she goes, a mystery.

I understand. I understand the need to flee.

I turn instead into the same small Italian restaurant where I ate last night. Thomas, the young waiter with shining brown hair the length of my own, smiles at me. “She’s back!”

“I know,” I say. “I meant to come in for an Espresso this morning. I’m just a little late, is all.”

“I accused some lady this morning of being you,” he says. “I told her, ‘Hey, I waited on you last night!’ She was like, ‘You did not.’ It was totally embarrassing.”

“Well.” I flash a smile to this boy the age of my own sons. “I hope she was totally gorgeous.”

“She was. Are you sitting in the back again tonight?”


He guides me to the back room and I sit, the only one in the tiny enclosure. One wall is glass, beyond which is a room full of furnaces and people—a glass-blowing studio.

Last night there was a beginner class going on. Tonight must be the advanced group. The instructor stands to the side, hands folded, and merely watches. There is nothing more she can teach these people. They have possibly surpassed her in talent. I order a glass of Riesling and a dish not found on the menu, which Thomas seems delighted to make to my specifications.

As I watch the glass-blowing, I am entranced. The students tonight are all men—some hardened, looking like the type to sit astride a Harley, embittered by divorce and fleeing into the hard edge of the wind. Others are the age of my son Logan. I watch them dip their tubes into the molten glass and then expertly twirl the glowing orb against a steel plate, rock music pulsing in the background. There is something innately moving about this—the juxtaposition of huge steel furnaces, heavy blacksmith tools, rugged men, and the fragile, delicate shapes they so painstakingly create. They blow into the ends of the tubes, use heavy, tong-like clippers to stretch the soft glass. A horse emerges, its mane flying in imagined wind. A vase. A bowl. A mottled orange mushroom enclosed in a glass orb.

Thomas returns with my dinner, conveniently packed to go.

But I do not want to go. I want to stay here, here in Seattle with the men dressed in black shirts and cargo pants and Vans and who care about art. The boys who insert shapes into the hot glass rather than needles into their arms. One boy wears the exact shoes Logan asked for last year for Christmas. I ache for Logan. I want him to be here, to put his pain and his fear into the furnace and have it emerge a radiant mass waiting to be shaped into something beautiful.

Me too. I want to wear fuschia pink with red and not care about anything but this very moment. This here, this now. I want to smoke and be fucked and have a firm butt and walk duckfooted and white legged and Birkenstocked and not to worry.

Most of all, not to worry. I want to stay here, buried somewhere in Seattle, where it’s okay to break the rules.



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