April 5, 2021

Signs of Life

My city has a pulse again. It shows up in the posture of pedestrians at the park. Chins are higher; eyes are on the horizon. My feet feel the pulse beneath the pavement, weak but steady. Seattle is a giant stirring beneath the covers. We’re tickling her toes with our mundane urban activities. Wake up. Wake up!

Seattle’s eyes haven’t opened yet, but they will. City buses still slide through the streets, eerily empty. I imagine those empty carriages ferry the souls of the dead. For too long, our streets have overflowed with grief and memory. Voices whisper: Do you remember the night the city burned? The unmedicated screams of the mentally ill outside your window, day after day? The photos of victims on television? The long, lonely stretches? The week everyone was making sourdough bread? The gut-clenching dread of the election? The TP shortage?General exhaustion? Wondering which of your loved ones might die? A gallows erected at the US capitol?

Dread. Fear. Grief. Anger. Pictures in the mind.

I flinch. I don’t want to think about those things! Well, except for sourdough week - that was kind of funny. I lived through 2020, and I don’t need a replay, thank you very much.

Instead, I look for pedestrians strolling down fourth avenue. Ping pong players laugh behind their masks at Westlake Park. I said “Hi” to a stranger wearing torn camo and an obscenely large American flag pin and for a split second he looked like a human being and not a potential threat. He seemed so surprised that I noticed him! And I wonder: How many have had to survive this last year entirely alone?

The other day, I saw a capital-T tourist struggling with her umbrella near Pike Place Market, her arms full of fresh flowers. I wept that night.

With something like normalcy on the horizon, I’m bemused to find that I’m losing my shit on the regular. Is this a delayed emotional response? Probably. I suspect my body has been banking stress like a squirrel hides nuts for a long bitter winter. But I’ll be okay.

I feel socially awkward lately. But I expect we’re all in the same boat. Hungry for connection. Feeling shaky as to how.

It’s been a long year, and there’s a lot to unpack. Why not give ourselves some grace? If the sight of a tourist makes you cry, cry.

I hear trucks outside making morning deliveries. Seagulls are calling out and swooping, enjoying the air currents between the towers. A crow weighs in with a slow ha-ha

It’s time for a shower and a cup of coffee. The day is starting.

And so am I. ❤️