Monday, August 07, 2006

What I End Up Writing When I Should Be Writing For a Manuscript Submission

I should have taken a picture of Nate’s shoes. Or of just the frayed button placket on the shirt he was wearing.

Nate is the kind of guy who, if you try to take a picture of him, stops doing whatever he was doing that made you want to take a picture in the first place. He’ll turn his head, or straighten up to face the camera, maybe try a smile, like he doesn’t know what you want to see through the camera lens, or what you were seeing before you lifted the viewfinder to your eye.

So, I think of these little visual details, and I imagine I could have gotten more intimate pictures of him through those things than I got when I took a picture of him directly. If I had trained a camera on his shoe, he woud have just let me take the picture. Maybe he would have laughed, or asked me what was doing. I can’t say for sure, though, he’s a mystery to me.

I, on the other hand, am no mystery when I’m around Nate. I go all talkative, almost as talkative as I was on Friday night with my girlfriends and a mojito.

Still, “when I’m around Nate” is a funny thing to say about a person who I hadn’t seen in a year until Saturday, and who I hadn’t spent much time with at all before that. It’s a phrase that conjures up some kind of intimacy that wouldn’t seem to make sense for the kind of minor characters Nate and I are in each other’s lives. But there are some funny things about intimacy – like how a few hours spent looking at someone’s button placket can create it, or how you can feel it with someone who is a mystery to you, someone you know you do not know. It happens when you let that person feel familiar to you anyway.

On Saturday, Nate rang the intercom to my apartment at 5:17 PM (according to my phone), and at 10:23 PM, I was back in my apartment on my own, checking the messages my phone had collected while I was out.

It felt like a long five hours, and I mean that in the best way. It was an adventurous 5 hours.

We started with coffee at Fiorre. Now, I know what you all are starting to think about me and that place, but he asked for coffee, he talked about how Seattle has such good coffee, all he wants to do is drink coffee when he’s here. Anyway, I like being in love with Fiorre. Summer is for being in love. Being in love and leaving the house with your hair wet and wearing sandals with your jeans and bikini tops under t-shirts, and summer is for eating outside, even if there are bees.

All of which I did on Saturday.

So, after Fiorre, we had dinner at Agua Verde, or rather, at the park next to Agua Verde, with the bees, where Nate saw a guy he doesn’t really know from Vancouver, and they talked about taking bike rides, and I looked at the guy’s old school brown sneakers, which he was wearing on a bike that had those tiny pedals that are meant for you to clip into. The five or ten minutes the guy was there and then especially the moment he rode his bike away felt like a scene from the movie “Slacker”.

But anyway, after all that, Nate said “Should we go to Seattle Center or wherever it is with the rides?” the way a boyfriend you’ve lived with for a while would say “Sh’we go to the grocery store?”, without even bothering to finish saying the word “should” at the beginning of the sentence. Only I was a whole lot happier than I would have been if he was suggesting we go to the grocery store. He knew I wanted to go on the rides because I sent him a text message the night before that, through some technological fluke, was delivered to him at 4AM.

We just watched the rides for a while before we finally got on one. The problem with watching the rides at Seattle Center is that only about half of them are being ridden at any given time. The attendant for the Orbiter sat in one of the ride’s grimy cars like he was grounded, kicking his legs out in front of him and slouching. There was a thorough purity to his boredom that I had not seen since high school trigonometry class. It was like he was sitting in a trig class that didn’t have a single hot chick worth lifting an eyelid for.

I loved it. Because sometimes summer is also for boredom.

After Nate and I actually rode the Orbiter, though, its attendant’s boredom seemed almost perverse. Here, right over his head, is one of the most intense kinesthetic experiences you can have on this earth. Or at least that’s how I felt about it when I tried to walk afterwards. Now, I know that it is not the most intense amusement park ride, and that people jump out of planes etc. But really, on any given day most of us are doing fairly ordinary things with our bodies. We get from here to there, maybe we get the heart rate up a little, exercising or what have you.

The Orbiter is just a different kind of reality from all that. The Orbiter reminds you that physics is no joke. It reminds you that gravity is mostly gentle with us earthlings, that centrifugal force does not have to handle us so tenderly, and yet, mostly, it does.

There was more to the evening than the Orbiter. There was an anemic attempt at skee ball, a game of dayglo air hockey that Nate won handily, and there was Nate looking for a kid to give our extra ride tickets.

Towards the end, we went up in the Space Needle. It’s different now, crowded, with the whole ground floor around the base turned into a donut of a gift shop, and just before you get in the elevator, they try to take your picture in front of a phony Seattle skyline, like you were at the prom. Still, I find the observation deck of the Space Needle an utterly satisfying place to be and I wished we could have stayed there long enough to really get bored.

One lasting effect of the night is that I have an annual pass to the Needle again, so next time it gets too hot on Queen Anne Hill, I say we all pile in the elevator and sit on the benches up top for a good long time. The old bar that made you feel like you were in an airport is gone, and while I mourn the loss of it, there’s a concession stand now, and I’m thinking maybe we can get some ice cream there instead.

Because of course, summer is for ice cream, and for going somewhere to look at the view, and for being in love with more of the world than usual, including cute boys wearing navy blue suede sneakers and $5 mirrored sunglasses. The kind of sunglasses that you try to see past your own reflection into, and sometimes can. But the sunglasses remind you that the boy with the brown eyes behind them is really seeking only a conversational mathematical intimacy that you can’t offer him. Still, I’m the kind of girl who can sympathize, and who knows how to love a guy just a little bit less than the amount that would make his girlfriend start to mind.

And that’s what I did on Saturday.


Allison said...

Why are you so good at making me miss Seattle? And who is this Nate person?

I heart your post very much.

Heather said...

I make you miss Seattle because I want you to come back! Or visit, at least.

Nate was a year behind me at SJC, and is now up in Vancouver. He was my houseguest for Bumbershoot last year. He's quite lovely?