Thursday, January 30, 2014


Dale Favier, visiting Marcel Hatch and Norman Hathaway in Seattle, circa 1974. Photo Norman Hathaway.

How places accumulate shadows, over years and years! I find it difficult to imagine Seattle as an ordinary place in modern time, a place I could drive to in my own car in three hours. Avgolemno soup at the Continental Cafe; bare apartments of philosophy students; the confusion of water and snow-capped mountains on both sides of you. I've almost always lived in the trough between the Cascades and the Pacific ocean, where everyone knows: the sea is West and the mountains are East. But in Seattle, the Sound or Lake Washington or Mt Rainier or the Olympics show up, a trompicones, over every ridgeline. Snow and water; water and snow.

I was trying to think when I was last there, and kept coming up with ridiculous answers such as "twenty years ago? Thirty?" Nothing happened in Seattle. I have no history there. No reason it should frighten me: except -- except that it's a different place, and it's a place where one of the lives I didn't choose unfolded. I guess I'm afraid I'll meet that life, and it will shrug impatiently and turn away.

Thin sunlight. Always sunlight, in Seattle, in the rain-shadow of the Olympics, but a fragile sunlight, coming slantwise. I am afraid of Seattle.

I was a teenager, and I got off the bus in downtown Seattle, the biggest city I had ever visited then. I was alone, and the skyscrapers downtown were vast, and blind at street level, and a dusty wind howled through them. I had friends in Seattle, so I believed: but Seattle was not my friend.

Yet I do have some sort of history in Seattle, though it pieces itself together slowly, slowly. I even had a lover in Seattle -- or did I? We dallied, and got so far as bare chests. A doorway curtained with strands of purple beads. I do remember that, or believe I remember it. Shadow follows sun, though, and sun follows shadow. I was lonely then, unendurably lonely. I don't know how I stood it. Loneliness like that would break me now.

I plan to go up there, at the end of February. Just for a couple days. I never go anywhere, but I'm going there. I'll stay with Kim, who brought the orange flowers, and I'll take my massage table.


Tom said...

A beautiful, evocative post. And it set me a-wondering about what we are, rather than who we are. And are we just a series of memories, or is it more dynamic than that? Do our memories and feelings develop over time like marinated food, the spiritual spices maturing and infiltrating that which we are?

Kerstin said...

You had me at "it's a place where one of the lives I didn't choose unfolded." Gave me shivers.

Dale said...

Tom, yes, I feel more and more like that: memories of memories, stories inset in stories.

Dale said...

Kerstin, thank you, and welcome!

rbarenblat said...

Such a beautiful post, Dale. (Such a beautiful Dale.)

am said...

Thank you for this atmospheric post today with the photo of you in 1974 in Seattle and for a trompicones

"it's a place where one of the lives I didn't choose unfolded."

"Friendship is more difficult that love."

word verification: shall arkedsep (accept?)

Zhoen said...

Visited Seattle while still technically married to the ex. Army sponsored, considering joining up full time to get my BSN. So much strange about it, a life not taken, as well.

Kristen Burkholder said...

"Loneliness like that would break me now." Loved this post but that sentence truly clicked. I had a relationship with Philadelphia like you seen to have had with Seattle, and suffered oceans of loneliness every turn. Although, we were much younger then, and so we also had a lot of pride and hope to lean into. And the supple strength of our bods. Now, not so much, on all counts.