Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Today's Favorites

7:15 am: Eighteen coffee shops within walking distance of my bed. I decide it's going to be a caffeinated day, so I pull myself out the door a few minutes early and walk two blocks to the cafe. The barista knows me well enough to rattle off what I want without prompting as I approach the counter.

7:28 am: Mostly stress-free commuting. I slide my bus ticket into the slot and sit down; this is only the second stop on the 44's route, so I have my pick of seats. I pull my novel out of my bag as the bus pulls away, and read for the 45-minute trip to work. True, that's twice as long as the trip would take by car--but this way I get to immerse myself in Jane Lindskold's Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart all the way to work; I skip the frustration of asshole drivers; and the caffeine has had time to take effect by the time I stroll to my office, meaning I start my work day more awake, calm, and happy. Gramps would say it sure beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

4:45 pm: Shops, gyms, and parks within blocks. Home for the evening, I change clothes and head to the gym. It's a warm day (let's pause to notice the understated nature of that phrase. In fact, it was 62 degrees in Seattle today--the same temperature as Tampa, Florida. That's one week after we were freezing and expecting snow. Tomorrow I'm wearing short sleeves. In January. IN SEATTLE. There are some days in July that I'm not warm enough to wear short sleeves, for crying out loud.), and not raining, so I walk slowly the six blocks, enjoying the warm sunset.

5:30 pm: Conversations with random strangers. Sweating from my workout, I take a detour on the walk home to cool off and stop by the grocery store. My husband had a tooth pulled by the dentist today, so I buy only ice cream, pudding, yogurt, and bananas. One cashier is shouting "BAM!" every time he scans an item, conversing loudly and jovially with his customer. When I exit the store, a man standing outside is selling the Real Change newspaper. I buy one from him and we chat for a minute about the weather and the articles in this new issue before I walk away with my no-teeth-necessary groceries and go home for dinner.

See, there are plenty of days when I hate being right in the middle of everything. It gets claustrophobic, and the smell of exhaust gives me a headache, and when three sets of neighbors are having raucous late-night parties all on the same night I am fully ready to move back to the boonies.

But most days aren't like that. Mostly I love being able to walk a block to the corner store if I have a random craving for peanut butter M&M's one night. I like covertly watching the people around me on the bus every morning. I adore the fact that the owners of Turtle Press live close enough down the street that we were in the same caucus precinct last February. (The fact that we were supporting the same candidate only cemented my admiration of them.) It's convenient and healthy to be able to just walk a few minutes if I want to get a milkshake, or a beer, or visit friends, or work out.

I lived in the middle of Nowhere, Oregon for seventeen long years. At some point I think we'll probably move away from the city--buy a house, get a big dog, and sit in our rockers on the front porch every night listening to the quiet. It sounds nice, especially on nights when the VFW has rented out their hall and two hundred people are shouting and dancing to an extra-loud band at 2 am just outside our bedroom window.

But today the VFW was quiet, and I enjoyed my city. Boonies--not yet.