Sleepless in Seattle

Well, it’s not quite 6 am Pacific Time, and I can’t sleep because I’m still on East Coast time, so let me tell you a story. On January 10, 1998, I drove into a fog in a four-year-old Geo Metro full of stuff. I had been on the road all day, and my boyfriend at the time was expecting me that night. This was the final stop of a week-long road trip I had taken by myself. I had a cell phone that weighed about as much as a bowling ball and I called him because I was lost. It was raining and very, very dark out, and very little was visible except the lights from the Space Needle and surrounding city skyline. Eventually, I made my way to the right street. I pulled over to the curb in front of the address I had scribbled down and turned off the ignition. And there I was–in Seattle, about to begin a new chapter with a man I had met nine months ago. I unpacked the car and there we were–living together 2,700 miles from where we had first met.

Flash forward to August 9, 2007, and that same man and I are walking around the same Seattle neighborhoods, this time with our offspring. We haven’t done a Memory Lane trip in some time. We left Seattle for Washington, DC on November 11, 2000, and we returned for a visit five months after our departure. So it’s been a while. We were relieved to find that although Seattle keeps growing, much of it seems unchanged. And of course, we’re here in the summer. The Pacific Northwest doesn’t allow summer to exceed 75 degrees, a fact Mike always enjoyed.

We flew in on Wednesday afternoon, and have since crammed a lot in. Our first stop was to Pike’s Place Market, which had been Mike’s first stop when he had moved here in November 1997, and it was my first stop as well–Mike and I ate lunch at the Market the day after I had arrived. So it was fitting that on Anna’s first day on her first trip to Seattle, we took her to enjoy lunch and to feast upon the rainbow of sights as well.

Of course, salmon is synonymous with Seattle. As we were always told when we lived out here, the “fish are so fresh, they need to be slapped.”

And, thankfully, there are other sights and smells besides cold, dead salmon at Pike’s Place Market…

During our 36 hours here so far, we managed to cover a lot of ground. After some shopping at the market, we went to the park where we played Toss the Flying Pink Mermaid, which sounds like a local drinking game, but really isn’t (though maybe it should be). The Pink Mermaid is in Anna’s hand. Looking closer, she strongly resembles Cher during her glam phase.

We took Anna to the Motherland, the first Starbucks, which opened in Seattle in 1971. It looks nothing like the Starbuckses you see in every mall today. It’s smaller and narrower, and when you walk it, your olfactory system is overwhelmed by the perfume of roasting coffee. Mike inhaled deeply, as if to take the memory with him.

After a restful night at the home of friends, a home which is so cool and so funky and resembles a ski lodge from the 1970s (think Brady Bunch meets Vail), the family hit the town once more. First stop, the Seattle aquarium, equally as intoxicating as the first Starbucks. The Seattle Aquarium employees are very cagey and clearly understand the impact of fish placement. They placed a Blue Tang and a Clown Fish, aka “Dory” and “Nemo” alone in their own tank, and every passerby took the bait. Here’s Nemo being a little shy:

Memory Lane stops included lunch at our favorite Japanese restaurant, Aoki on Broadway in Seattle’s famous Capitol Hill neighborhood. It was here where I enjoyed my first taste of green tea ice cream. Anna lapped up a bowl of green tea ice cream too, and attempted to eat with chopsticks by repeatedly stabbing her bowl of rice, a new technique that produced mixed results.

I am a picky sushi eater, and a boring one too–I only eat the California roll. But when I lived two blocks from Aoki, I used to eat sushi there three times a week. It has something to do with how they prepared the crab. On the East Coast, I eat sushi barely three times a year.

You can’t visit Seattle and not ride the monorail. We explained to Anna that it’s a train in the sky. The monorail was built in 1961 to ferry folks from downtown to the World’s Fair, which took place in 1962 and featured the Space Needle.

Nothing caps a busy day of sightseeing better than curling up back at the retro ski lodge, home to Team Wasserman aka Wayland, Stephanie, seven-year-old Aidan, and soon to be three-year-old Rowan, who has been kind enough to share her Dora toys with our three-year-old. What’s also great about this retro ski lodge/family home is that it features a wine room about the size of my first apartment in New York, and while Rowan shares her Dora toys with Anna, Wayland and Stephanie have been sharing their wine with us. Now, that’s hospitality. Sometimes I sit here wondering with all this great wine and scenery, why don’t we come back. We should return in January, like that day when I first arrived over nine years ago, and we can walk around the cold, dark, wet fog and ask ourselves that question again.

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