I’ve been in Seattle since Saturday morning. It’s Tuesday morning, and it is miraculously not raining. For the first time since I’ve been here. Here is proof. That’s blue sky you see just over the light rail streaking by. I am beside myself.
Yes, I am from California, where lately we beg the heavens to let water fall, where we do rain dances, and shake our fists at the cloudless sky and curse. Where it is currently 78 degrees. In February. I’m happy when it rains in my hometown. But this.
A friend of mine lives here and while trying to make some dinner plans he sent me this message:
“Let me plan on picking you up at [my hotel] so you don’t have to walk in the rain. You Californians sometimes freak out when it rains too much.”
I wanted to send him a reply message that said “WTF? I’m not made of sugar, you know.” But I didn’t. Because he is right. I have been freaking out a little. I have three pairs of soaking wet shoes in my hotel room right this minute, and one of them I bought at a City Target after walking all day in the soggy streets, my trusty pair of TOMS having given up trying to be shoes in this watery onslaught.
Last night I walked over to the Century Ballroom, where a free screening of RuPaul’s Drag Race was hosted by Ben DeLaCreme, seen here looking quite lovely. I had fantasies of mingling with fabulous drag queens, sipping wine and nibbling cheese with all sorts of folks I rarely come into contact with. I’ve been to a drag club twice, both the same one–LIPS, in Greenwich Village. I took two of my daughters there on trips to NYC to celebrate their high school graduation,and both times it was a wonderful night of fun and laughter and amazing entertainment.
But it was not to be for me here in the Emerald City (FYI: STILL no idea why they call it that, but it sounds so great, right? ) The line at the Century Ballroom was so long–it snaked up three flights of stairs and around several bends. The people waiting in line looked disappointingly normal, too. Very few wigs. Hardly any sequins. Most everyone looked pretty much like me. In fact, I was more dressed up than most, thinking I couldn’t show up to a drag show wearing my Fresno State sweats and a baseball cap, though I could have, because most everyone there was dressed as dull and drab as the gray Seattle sky. After waiting for a half hour or so, we were told that they had crammed as many people into the ballroom as they possibly could. The rest of us didn’t stand a chance.
I did meet several nice very nice people while waiting in line. I was invited to go to The Wild Rose–a bar down the street–by a nice young man and his companions. but I declined. He was so friendly, and so earnest in trying to get me to see the beauty of his city (he looked a lot like that guy on Portlandia), but my colleagues (I like calling my peeps that) from my MFA program will be here soon, and we will be doing plenty of drinking in bars; I decided to save up my energy and cash and head back to my hotel. Before I left, the young man told me that when the sun does come out, it’s glorious. “We really appreciate it,” he told me. I likened it to Tolkien’s theory (nerd that I am) of eucatastrophe, where you must endure the suffering before you can enjoy those “piercing glimpses of joy.” The young man, nerd that he is, loved my comparison, and wrote the word on his arm so he would remember it.
I made the walk back to my hotel through the rain. Have I mentioned that the GPS on my phone doesn’t work for crap here? All the clouds, I suppose. So I do a lot of walking in circles and staring at my phone, occasionally shaking it; that does nothing yet I can’t seem to stop myself. But last night I didn’t even need my GPS. I’ve begun to figure out the streets here, and besides, it was early, and I had nothing to do. (Having nothing to do is such a foreign feeling for me; I find it exhilarating and terrifying.) I strolled through the wet and shiny city, breathing in the moist air, and enjoying the luxury of solitude in a city where I know almost no one.
Back at my hotel I changed into those comfy sweats and headed down to the lobby–the only place you get free internet in my hotel. I snuggled into one of the couches, ordered a glass of wine, and watched the final episode of House of Cards on my laptop, the letdown of which was similar to missing out on RuPaul.
But today the sun is out. Tomorrow my peeps begin arriving. I’ve got four more days here. Seattle, show me the green.