©2022 Michael Raven
It’s pour rain here again. What luck for all the residents that I am leaving tomorrow on “a Southern train” to Portland, so the sun can return to the lands.
I’m only jesting, but it sure seems like Mother Nature is have a joke on me at my own expense.
I ended up yesterday heading back to Capitol Hill to get another coffee from my favorite espresso bar. I also stopped at a new-agey store that wasn’t open when I was last in the area and, while I am not into crystals, I saw some polished obsidian and — seeing as it is a reoccurring theme in some of my spiritual stuff, I added three small pieces to my collection of trinkets. I also ended buying my daughter that ruffle shirt that I would have murdered for back when I was a teen. In all honesty, I almost bought one for myself as well, but at my age I can’t think of a good enough excuse to wear it without engendering sneers — much like the unsolicited one I received while walking back from the light rail station a few days back over my biker leather.
I opted to wear my biker leather to Seattle because it was warm, but not too warm, and water resistant (expecting weather much like I have encountered so far), wanting to stay dry and not pull a chill due to minor hypothermia due to a soaked jacked of lighter build. I’m also not above admitting that I knew it would give me an extra layer of protection if the horror stories I heard from several relatives about the utter decline of the Seattle downtown were true (no, it isn’t nearly as bad as I was warned); plus, it gives off a “don’t fuck with me” vibe to people who might consider messing with someone wearing more standard jackets.
I was walking “home” and some little shit from North Seattle College was walking the opposite direction (towards school). He sneered in his 20-something “I am so much smarter than the rest of the world” superiority complex kind of way (I know it well, having sported it myself at that age) and said in a mocking, smug tone, “Niiiice jacket”. Not expecting to have a conversation with anyone, let alone a little snot, I almost didn’t hear him because I wasn’t listening. I shrugged and without turning to look back at him as he passed, “Hey, thanks.”
I’ve found that kind of response is more irritating to those types of people than saying something snarky back. Not that I wanted to be irritating: I wanted to get somewhere dry, take off my shoes and put my aching feet in the air. I don’t like avoidable conflicts and people who feel the need to smart off to strangers in this day and age of instant “road rage” are too stupid to bother with. I mean, do you really want to take the chance that I might be strung out on something? In Seattle, mental health and drug addiction is a serious issue and there are plenty of examples as to why you probably shouldn’t poke the bear everywhere you look. It was a stupid risk he took and he was lucky that I’m not one of the people who didn’t respond negatively to his judgmental comments.
That’s one thing I learned living here years ago. Most of the time, it is better to keep your head down and to avoid conflict, especially when there are a higher percentage of people in the city compared to many that do suffer from serious mental health issues and have little or nothing left to lose. Because of the milder weather compared to many places, Seattle does attract more than a few people looking to survive being homeless.
I knew a Yakima tribal member and ‘Nam vet when I lived here, who wouldn’t give a name, so we called him 13-cents (because that’s what he asked for when he saw you, unless it was cigarettes). He watched out for me because I was kind to him, gave him the occasional requested amount, and more in cigarettes. Him and his homeless friends had my back when threatened once by a few drunk lads partying from the suburbs (“tourists” they were called when they came to the city on the weekends) and took umbrage to my wearing a wine-colored red crushed velvet skirt.
I have sympathy for the people who live on Seattle’s streets and, while my cigarette and money-giving days are gone, I know nearly all of them aren’t looking for trouble, they’re just trying to get by. So, unlike my relatives who are still warning me about dangers of the inner city after five days, I walk without fear of being messed with because I know when to cross the street and to not engage with people who are sick and tired of being messed with.
But, I got sidetracked here…
What I’m doing is washing my clothes from the past few days while I have access to a laundry machine while avoiding the downpour outside. I haven’t decided what I’ll do tomorrow before I head to the Amtrak depot to ride to Portland. Hell, I don’t know what I plan to do when I get there aside from checking in to my room and maybe grabbing a bite. I wish I had realized there wasn’t going to be daylight by the time I arrived, but it can’t be helped now.
I do wish that old school mate of mine would have maintained his enthusiasm for seeing me in Portland, but only because it would have been nice to have someone I knew to spend an evening or a few hours with in an unfamiliar city. I know I should also get a clue how to get to the airport when that time comes, but I guess I have plenty of time to figure that out.
Right now, though, it’s time to swap laundry loads and think about where I can get some coffee…