When I lived in Seattle, I drove a car. Every day. I drove an hour to work each day, across a bridge that overlooked Lake Union and the Space Needle as the city was waking up, and across another bridge that floated on top of the water and swayed a little with strong winds. I drove to Safeway to buy my co-workers donuts in the middle of the day. I drove an hour home from work each day, and used that time to talk to my mom on the phone while I sat in bumper to bumper traffic. I drove to my friends’ houses and to the bank and to the grocery store, even though it was only a few blocks away and would have taken less than fifteen minutes to walk there. I drove because I could. I drove because that’s what you do when you have a car, even though gas prices are astronomical and we have a really good metro transit system. No bus or tram or bicycle could frighten me, and I was never afraid that harm would befall my soft breakable body while I was enveloped in my two-ton metal cocoon. The weather outside didn’t matter, because inside my car I could have a cool breeze blowing in my face or heat radiating from my seat warmers just by pushing a button.
When I lived in Seattle, I made a decent living. I wasn’t rich by any stretch, but I had enough money to pay my rent and make payments on my credit cards and to eat Chipotle every day for lunch, and I still had some money left over for hobbies. I had enough money to buy a couple yards of fabric to sew something pretty, or to buy a couple packs of cigarettes a week to enjoy while I was driving. I had enough money to buy things that I didn’t need. Sometimes, if I felt the urge to spend a little money on something, I would drive to the Goodwill and buy a couple used books or some gaudy bauble to use as decor in my living room, just because. I had enough money to take a friend out to dinner, or to buy drink for someone on their birthday, or to bring a six-pack of beer to a social gathering. I had enough money to replace a light bulb if it burnt out. I always had a little money left over when I got paid on the first day of the month, and I could always count on having my paycheck placed in my hands on the first day of the month, no matter what. Unless the first day of the month happened to fall on a weekend or a holiday, in which case I could definitely count on having it the next business day.
When I lived in Seattle, I ate all different kinds of food, and plenty of it. I ate a Chipotle burrito bowl for lunch every day at work, and always with additions like corn salsa and lime tortilla chips. On more than one occasion, I had a layer of taste buds burned off and sweated uncomfortably from the spicy hotness of a Cashew Chicken bowl at Thai Tom’s. I abandoned silverware, held spongy injera bread in my hands and used it to scoop portions from my Ethopian platter (always avoiding the hard-boiled egg) at Queen Sheba. I asked for a fork and hung my head in shame for being the only person in my posse who couldn’t manage to use chopsticks to aid in slurping my slippery Pho noodles at Than Brothers. At Matador, I traversed a mountain of gooey Happy Hour nachos, heaped with sour cream and guacamole and habaneros (all of which I scraped off), until there were only crumbs left. I ate greasy cheeseburgers and fries and chocolate milkshakes at Dick’s Drive-In, and all for under $5. Sometimes I even cooked with my friends, usually on Saturday mornings, where we would all pitch in and set ourselves to one task, like frying the bacon or chopping the vegetables to scramble with the eggs or drizzling frosting over the cinnamon rolls. If I ever ate microwave meals, it was because of insurmountable laziness.
When I lived in Seattle, I was rarely at home because I was always out doing something. I brought wine to dinner at my friends’ houses and read aloud at the book club and drank gin & tonics at Happy Hours and went up on the roof on clear days and furrowed my eyebrows pensively in art galleries and sunbathed at the lake in the summer and closed my eyes at poetry readings and danced unabashedly at live shows. And a lot of the time, someone accompanied me.
When I lived in Seattle, I complained sometimes but I was mostly happy. I’m looking forward to living in Seattle again.