My friend Brittny is really good at helping others realize more about the moment than what most people ordinarily see. She is an excellent writer, so I think some of the observations she brings to the forefront come from that creative, analytic side of her.
In May, I got to be in Washington with her the weekend she turned 33, and we spent the whole time celebrating best friendship, big cities, beaches, and even Beyonce. We made sure to spend a day in Seattle because my only memory of that place consists of my 5-year-old self and my mom in the rain. I think we went to a children’s museum, but I don’t remember anything else.
On the day Brittny and I drove from Olympia to Seattle, we blared music down the freeway, sang top 40 pop songs, Taylor Swift and Yellowcard. She made sure to belt Beyonce at the top of her lungs. It was sunny and everything on both sides of the road was green. Brittny told me this would be our day, and that it was going to be a good day. We would have other time during the weekend to really talk about our lives, our troubles, our heartbreaks, but our Seattle day would be about all things happy.
We left Brittny’s car in a parking garage near the ocean, and started walking down to the waterfront where we watched ferries travel between islands and saw people line up for the Ferris wheel. A lot of people like us were taking pictures of the skyline and the water. From there, we started walking again in the direction of Pike Place Market.
Brittny pointed out the smells of the restaurants and the ocean. Seattle smelled like Indian food and spices and salt water. When we got closer to the market, Seattle was made of wet, squishy, bubblegum between our fingers that we stuck on walls like everyone else. Seattle was a moment when Brittny realized she actually could not blow a bubble and so we laughed while taking at least 20 photos of her attempts.
Then Seattle changed to the smell of seafood and giant fish being thrown back and forth between market workers dressed in orange waders. And following that seafood smell, came the fresh scent of pink peonies, purple tulips, yellow lilies. Bouquets were made in every color, shape and size, while thousands of flowers waited in buckets to be transformed into full-on artistic masterpieces that could be purchased for $15. The flowers, I tell you, were magical.
We meandered through art displays and looked at paintings and photographs. I bought a couple prints to hang up at home and a bag of Rainier cherries the color of sunsets that tasted like summer. We sat and ate those cherries at Waterfront Park before moving on to coffee and Beechers, where we ordered two kinds of macaroni and cheese, tasted curds, and watched through sidewalk windows as machines churned milk in vats.
We walked all day in that lovely city and while we had a plan to see certain things, it often felt like there was no plan at all. We stopped in a shop that only sold umbrellas, and another that sold all things maps and globes. Whenever we got a little thirsty we found another coffee shop to sip on frozen Frappuccinos or lavender lattes.
We took an elevator to the top of the Space Needle where we could see all over Seattle and out to the islands. Sometimes when you’re up high like that, you get to imagine what it’s like being one of the people who live in that city every day. What are their lives like? What are their problems? What are their dreams? Do they feel lucky that they live in a city that smells like salt water, spices, Indian food, coffee and cheese?
We talked about all kinds of things on top of that Needle, and Brittny pointed out the landscape while the wind blew our hair around and made us laugh.
Then we walked to Kerry Park where teenagers in formal dresses of all colors were taking pictures before they headed off to prom. There were selfie sticks and smiles and a little of that teenage awkwardness that always comes along with dating and dressing to impress. Oh to be teenagers again, we wondered. What would we have done differently?
It was a perfect day. From Kerry Park we walked miles back to our car, talking the whole time about nothing and everything. I remember it was a day I felt truly alive.
It was a rough five months between the time my dad died and my visit to Seattle. It’s still rough. I have found, however, that one way I can always find myself is when I’m with a really good friend who makes me laugh, dream, think, explore and realize more about the moment. The same thing happened a couple months later while on a trip with Travis in San Francisco where we filled ourselves with Italian food covered in garlic, purchased loose leaf tea in Chinatown, took a boat that went under the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, and hiked all along the north beaches. At some point he told me I seemed really happy and I said, “I told you I’m my best self while traveling.”
There is just something about traveling – and there is something about the people in my life – that makes me feel whole again. Life can be blue, foggy, gray and dizzy, but give me a plane ticket, good food and company and I am OK again, at least for a while.
It was so sunny that day in Seattle. The clouds were perfect, the water was blue and once again, I felt like someone or something was watching out for me. That night, we drove back to Olympia and talked about our families. We discussed everything that is hard right now. I cried. I told Brittny about the regrets I have from when my dad was alive.
Brittny and I spent the rest of that weekend eating at cute local restaurants, getting our palms read at a farmer’s market, walking by the water and touring the Capitol. We got dressed up and had dinner with Brittny’s closest friends for her birthday, then danced to Usher and Madonna and dozens of other happy songs in a hot, bouncing bar. I was drunk and nostalgic then as I told Brittny, Devin and their friend Molly I was so happy we were together.
On our last full day, we went to Ocean Shores for Brittny’s real birthday and spent hours running around looking for sand dollars. We sat on the Jetty and listened to music in the wind. Brittny wanted us to take in that moment separately. She wanted to think about her own life and happiness.
I think these reasons are why I felt alive after five months of feeling unlike myself. I needed upbeat music, sunshine, and the ocean. I needed a good friend. I think it’s important to take time out, to see something new, to spend that time with someone who realizes more about the moment than what most people ordinarily see.