I got my Lyft drive to the airport Tuesday am—not so early, just 7:15—but the process took some left turns I wasn't expecting (little driver joke there) & he didn't pick us up until almost 8. In the midst of this—standing on the sidewalk, looking at my phone, attempting to figure out where he was or what was happening—I began to experience some light headedness & I barked we're going to miss our plane, we gotta wake Sam up so he can take us, stupid phone, what is going on... His nibs was dismissive first, then annoyed, & finally concerned cause he doesn't see me like this, breathing in short bursts & walking in circles. Gotta say, this is not the type of role in which I am typically cast.
We're in Seattle on the Great Wheel; it's 4:45 Friday afternoon on our last day; our rental is on 1st Ave & Virginia Street with a sticker expiring in 3 minutes. Clearly we're either going to be dinged a parking ticket, or Seattle will see fit to smile & wave us on through without penalty, & our plane doesn't even leave til 10 tonight, so no worries. But that's not what I'm on about as we crest the top this giant circumference in blinding western sun: I'm giving little whimpers hunh, hunh, & looking out over the water & distracting myself with the camera app. What the heck?
I was the one who inexplicably sought this ride out from the first day. Me the non-touristy tourist: checked into the indescribably funky historic Panama Hotel, visited my cousin & ate at his eccentric Indian restaurant, searched out obscure examples of Beyer's public art in the wide vicinity, got the wa of the ages in the Japanese Garden, read an entire trashy novel from the top drawer of our rickety chest of drawers. I'm the adventure-seeker, grunting with slight nausea up here. The first word I notice walking out of the ride afterwards on an extra large restaurant poster/menu makes my stomach quail: OYSTERS.
Fun fact: even if you are at your most efficient & focused best self, you can neither control shit nor can you locate everything. We're headed toward the airport with a qualified calm since we didn't get that parking ticket, & we really only have three things left on our agenda: get to our last sculpture site, move on to a bit of lite dining/snacks, & fill up the rental Corolla (did I mention they tried to upgrade us from a no longer available two-seater Smart Car—which we thought would be a perfect way to test out whether we would consider having one in real life—to a Chrysler Sedan...???WTF! I marched back to the kiosk & opined that no way was I driving a frikkin' Chrysler.) So having prevailed on that score, how could I not feel at least somewhat forthright & competent. I was. I am. But as previously stated, shit will not stay put.
The route to our last sculpture is a train station out in the boonies & my phone triumphantly announces destination is on your right except it isn't. It's clearly on the east side of the tracks & I'm on the fucking west & you know what happens when you are on the wrong side—they have a tendency to frown on just cruising across the tracks to get to the other side. They continue to frown for about two miles until I can make a left up the hill, observing many other folks doing the same, no U turns, no no no: up the hill, find a place to turn & down the hill again, back north.
This is just the beginning, however. We cannot be precise about what we're looking for because...ah, just forget that part; we can't because we can't, but we do need to park to continue our search so I'm not so much frazzled as in charge of the car which allows me to decide to simply pull over into a sketchy little parking lot where there happens to be another car with a gentleman who immediately takes umbrage at our proximity—drug dealer? Who knows—but I ain't moving. His nibs is going to reconnoiter & I am going to google. Which I do & by the time he is back—drug dealer still glaring—I have come up with our solution: we are unfortunately at the wrong site. A question of missing the crucial search term library.
So off we go, no harm no foul, just a blip & we still have time to course-correct. Snicker-snak & destination on your right. Except it's a bit wonky, sirens in the distance, not exactly obvious where the library is. Off the road I go & up into an interesting little enclave; people seem to be gathering. I find a spot & turn off the ignition. The sound of sirens increases, along with the arrival of two fire engines. We're not noticing smoke or flames...? But there are a number of parties milling about the four story building next to us. An alarm seems to be going off inside. A quick double-check for the address & an inquiry on the sidewalk directs us to the building on the far side, in fact & function a library—closed at the moment—but that doesn't matter, we're looking for outdoor sculptures, remember, & now thanks to google & me, we know precisely the form this one
takes: children on a bench reading books. There it is! Way out of sight, past the parking lot, next to the sidewalk.
A fellow in light clothing & flipflops sits next to the children, smoking & pondering. As we approach, I point at the kids. He notices I'm holding up my phone/camera & quickly moves out of the way, smiling, gesturing, apologizing. We smile, take our pictures, tell him we knew the late artist in question. At this point it becomes clear that the reason there have been up to this point very few words exchanged is because our fellow is struggling mightily both to understand & to speak English. We pantomime, speak a bit too loud (silly), show him images of other sculptures on my phone. He's totally entranced! He demands to know the name of the artist, carefully writes it on a scrap of paper; he intends to google he says, wants to know more. We walk together down the sidewalk, toward our parked car—we've basically come full circle from our arrival—laugh at
the mystery of three fire engines & many firemen putting away their equipment & chatting together as if nothing had happened. He thanks us & introduces himself—Burmese, perhaps—our names are equally difficult for him to pronounce & we wave fond farewell.
I feel like I'll never be ill again.