I don’t know if I’m ready to write about Seattle yet. I just got back a few months ago. I was born and raised here, but I’ve been gone for thirty-seven years. Being gone for so long puts things in a different perspective. I’m still coming to grips with my feelings about the city I find around me as opposed to the city I grew up in. But the rain I experienced today ignited a desire to compose a few words, so here they are.
I work almost all the time just to stay afloat. I start at seven in the morning and work until midnight, with breaks for a short nap, meals, meal prep, and necessary outings like shopping. I’m a single parent with two sons living with me, so I have to have plenty of food on hand. Lately I have been researching and writing articles during the day and in the early evening, and writing my novels and stories late at night. The research and writing of the articles is exhausting because it is an effort. I don’t want to do it. I would rather be writing my stories all day, but the articles pay the bills. Barely.
Today I had done a couple of articles and I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up from the chair at which I work and I was dizzy and deeply weary. I had to get out of the house for a while so I decided to take a walk to the drugstore about eight or ten blocks away. Glancing outside, it seemed that wind had driven away the clouds and there were hints of sunlight, so I decided to leave the umbrella at home.
It’s autumn. Wind was whipping leaves all over the place. I stayed off the main road and took neighborhood sidewalks past wooden houses, towering evergreens, and lush bushes and grass. Seattle is rife with greenery. It was a wonder and a pleasure to breathe in the fresh air, walk briskly, and get all the kinks out of my joints.
So I went into the drugstore, bought a few things, and when I came out a few minutes later, it was raining heavily. There was nothing to do but walk home in the rain. And it was glorious. The rain was soft, and sweet, and beneficent. It was like a benediction. So unlike the harsh, punishing rain in Yakima where I spent last winter. It was blessed, this rain. It was comforting. It was exhilarating. I felt caressed by the environment. I felt at home.
In some ways I feel I am home, but in other ways I don’t. Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again. I never read the book so I don’t know his take on the subject, but I am certainly not the same person I was when I lived here almost four decades ago. I’ve lived in starkly different cultures and learned new perspectives. I can’t look at things the same way people view them who have spent their entire lives here and nowhere else. In some ways I feel at home, but in other ways I feel like a stranger in a strange land, and I can’t wait until circumstances open up to take me off on my next adventure. In my memoir “World Without Pain: The Story of a Search” I write:
Perhaps the journey itself, the search, was the point of it all. But if it was then there was no end, no goal, no destination. One could not arrive; one could not rest, except intermittently.
And home? I couldn’t go home again. Home was an abstraction from which one commenced a particular phase of the journey, not an absolute.
And Seattle has changed. It’s not the backwater city, quaint and inexpensive, that it used to be when I last lived here. The dotcoms moved in and wreaked havoc with property values. Everything is expensive and chic now. Where the hell is the simple life?
It’s too soon to say how long I will be here. I have no plans to move on at the moment. Then again, you never know until it happens. But I have a son in school and for such things one needs a modicum of stability.
Anyway, although I get weary sitting here hour after hour writing the words, I find the sound of the pouring rain outside comforting. It reminds me that I’m back in Seattle, and that I’m meant to be here, at least for now. I have come for a purpose that will slowly become apparent as the days, weeks, and months progress. And if the work gets too overwhelming, I’ll take another walk in the sweet soft rain.
PS for those who follow this blog regularly as it appears: I don’t always publish the blogs on the days I write them. At the moment Seattle has been experiencing several days of very chilly but very clear weather. I wrote this about a week ago, when it was raining heavily every day.