Everything Looks New Again, and Can So Many Times

I love writing titles like that. My job involves, among other things, SEO-conscious writing and good internet content practices. Writing a title like that is the wordsmith equivalent of gliding about in a sequined caftan.

Here are things I’ve done since I last wrote to you properly: went to Paris as part of a duo, took a timeout in Rennes, went to Paris solo*, explored Berlin, slept in a boat in Amsterdam, joined my family in Florida for the holiday, got drunk on salt in New Orleans while rediscovering my love of oysters, decided to live in Capitol Hill for one more year, took an intro to programming class, got a new job, flew business class to Tokyo, bathed naked in a hot mineral pool while gazing at Mount Fuji, turned 32**, and returned to my blog.

I swear, I lose track at how eventful stuff can get until I write one of these big run-on paragraphs.

I also got a new camera. This is the first picture I took with it.

Echo at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle

In which I learned the Sculpture Park got a hell of a new addition.

Here’s another view that isn’t the first shot ever of something:

Echo at the Olympic Sculpture Park, again

I kind of love it. I found myself moving at all angles along the walkway that leads to the Sculpture Park entrance and the thin beginning of Myrtle Edwards Park, and it never looked less otherworldly and dimension-bending.

Until March, I worked pretty close to this, but I hadn’t been in that area in months. I was, particularly toward the end of my tenure at my old job, very stingy of my lunches. I love exploring, yes, but I was at a point where I needed to read quietly in an empty room, or to write, or to study, or something. It was hard then, as it can be when you’re ready to move on from something that naturally takes up a very large part of your life, to do challenging things like playing choose-your-own-adventure when mostly you just need to spent 30 to 60 minutes taking deep breaths and working on things outside of that particular place in your life.

Oh, second person.

I ended up at the park in late March, the day after I got a new camera and a couple hours after receiving some great news. My intention had been to walk from Pioneer Square to a Lower Queen Anne coffeeshop to sit and write and read while I waited for Tom to arrive so we could have dinner and see a show. Instead, I had that nice feeling of my feet deciding we’d go elsewhere. I walked down Alaskan, looking at the Clipper and considering plans for the next couple of months, and was greeted by a big giant head.*** So, clearly, my path was set.

There’s a little cove just into Myrtle Edwards, past the sculptures. It’s all so northwestern: round pebbles instead of sand, great driftwood logs pulled into a semicircle for seating to best enjoy the view of the bay and the sound and the land beyond. I once saw Jason Webley strip to his undies there, tie his hat to balloons, and jump into the November water to swim out to a waiting boat. It doesn’t need the memory, though; it’s beautiful on its own. Look:

View from Myrtle Edwards Park

I sat on a log and felt very apart from the well-worn grooves of my life of the last couple of years. Everything felt new and waiting to be discovered. I think of this feeling, this bubbling sensation where everything is possibility and full of forks and turns I haven’t even imagined yet, as becoming. This is probably largely Buffy‘s fault.

I’ve been to this park many times, but suddenly I saw it like I imagine visitors see it – this place of casual and occasionally devastating beauty, beaches distinguished by dramatic vistas rather than tides gliding in and leaving like a polite guest.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one taking it in. There were several people milling about, seeing how long they could stand the whipping winds before calling it an afternoon. Here are a couple of them.

Couple at Myrtle Edwards Park

The two of them were so perfect and seemingly deliberately picturesque that I was waiting for one of them to propose. They mulled about beautifully for several minutes, long enough for me to pretend that taking pictures of oblivious strangers is photography and not just being kind of socially weird and creepy.

A woman who looked about 20 came up shortly after and asked if I’d take her picture. “I come down here every day to take a picture of the water,” she said. She had that look of some people native to here, all zesty and energetic and longing at every moment for some mountain path. I told her I’d worked nearby until recently but had long since left the habit of walking this way often. “Oh, you missed out,” she said. True.

She handed me her iPhone and asked me to capture her on the thirds. She stood on that rocky outcropping you can see in both of my pictures here, and I took about 20 photos of her, taking the light reading from different spots so she’d have lots of sky to choose from. She seemed happy when she saw what I’d done, thanked me, and continued on her walk.

And then the wind got the best of me, and I realized how very hungry I was. I retreated through the Sculpture Park proper, taking this before I walked up the gritty gravel hill past the other sculptures I’ve gotten to know pretty well over the last few years.

The feeling of unfamiliarity and newness has persisted. New jobs will do that to you, I suppose – a new route, a new set of buildings that will gradually become familiar background, new walking commuters to make up stories about****. A chance to reinvent yourself, though I never have – wherever I go, there I am, and that is fine with me.

The whole world looks big and bright and waiting, and I am here.


*That’s still the same trip (Paris/Rennes > Berlin > Amsterdam, all told). Seriously, I am neither crazy nor rich.

**2^5, thank you very much. I was sad to leave such a juicy prime number behind, and then I realized what I was moving onto and got all excited again.

***The second big giant head of public art of my life, so far.

****Selected members of the old cast: Sadbeard, Fake Richard Attenborough, woman who stares determinedly at ground while walking, Howard Stern’s lighter-haired brother.