First this: On Saturday evening, a beautifully coiffed woman outside the Seattle Repertory Theater clutched her phone in what looked like a last minute call just before curtain. She wore what appeared to be a darn good knock off or a real Channel suit, that kind with the short jacket, narrow shoulders, and tweedy weave that shouts expensive. High black pumps and bangles on one wrist finished the look. As I passed I heard her hiss into the phone, “Well then perhaps I should just come over and kick you in the c–t with my Manolo Blahniks, you stupid t–t!”
Then this: Outside Metropolitan Market I pressed a five into the distorted hand of Edgar who had stopped me on my way into the store asking for some change so he could eat. A tear rolled from his right eye onto this cheek and down his face. It fell from his chin onto our hands, sealing our connection on the street. On Sunday, Mercer for a moment became a baptismal in which I was invited to join him in the faith. I don’t for a moment think that the five was such a big deal. It was, perhaps, that I asked him his name and gave him mine.
Further this: The man in his late twenties, apparently Latino, held the hand of a little boy. I imagine it is his son. The man’s face is a study in calm as he looks around, for what? A bathroom? Children’s clothes? The boy’s mother? The boy must be two or three. He is a good walker despite the fact that he is wearing a t-shirt and underpants, sandals with Velcro closures. His underpants are clearly soiled and probably smell pretty bad. But that’s okay because the boy and his father appear to be invisible to everyone save me.
Then: Monday was a glorious day and absolutely everyone knew it. Did anyone actually work on Monday? The streets were filled with people and the roadways were clogged with cyclists. Shirt-tails were out and pants got rolled up. Some had shoes slung over the shoulder. I bolted from my room at 5:00 planning a walk for an hour or two. I had a route in mind and loved the pace I would need to keep to get back by dark. Somehow, at some point near the water, a strikingly handsome young man walked right in front of me, causing me to side-step to avoid two women with their dog. I got around the tangle by picking up my pace and quickly was enjoying my music via headphones again. But within a minute I noticed that the guy was right on my heals, not quite aggressively, but uncomfortably. He caught up with me and craned his head a bit to look me in the eyes and smile. I smiled back and noticed his perfect teeth, chiseled features, rich brown eyes, and great skin. I noticed this because he was right in my face smiling and smiling and smiling and smiling. After an uncomfortably long time he moved ahead of me and slowed down. This stuff went on for at least 20 minutes. I finally found a way to have him get further ahead and then I doubled back and ascended some stairs into a sculpture garden. In two blocks, he was on me again. This time, I walked into an office building and told security I was being harassed and stalked.
Next: Twenty minutes later I was okay and headed back to my rooms. I stopped for a book of poems and a slice of pizza. Reading one of my current favorite poets over an arugula pizza seemed to be the ticket. One block from the restaurant, a gaunt middle-aged women stopped me in the middle of the cross walk and asked if I could spare a twenty.
Over the course of three days, many more things happened. Some of them were very similar to this sample; others, not. I have been marveling at the new buildings going up everywhere, at the obvious economic boom. But something very troubling is happening. I wonder who is listening to people’s joys or their sorrows. Who is reminding people here of their humanity? Where does someone go to find out the most accurate community critique? Why is this stuff tolerated and why does no one seem to notice?