Where yat, Keith? When I landed in Seattle in the summer of 1991 I crashed at Keith's house. Keith was from Louisiana, the home state I left when I was 4. He taught me crucial things about my home state, like how to say "Yeah you right" just right. Keith was a hoot. I think he was also maybe a yat (as in Where yat? i.e. a native New Orleanian), but I'm not sure about dat. There wasn't room for me then, tho' I did move in later. I was just crashing on the living room floor while I looked for digs.
PCC. I drove around to PCC stores to put flyers up on community bulletin boards. On a whim I drove over to the Kirkland PCC to put one up. Funny thing about whims. Turns out they're a way my wisdom likes to clue me in on stuff. The only response to my housing wanted flyers came from Kirkland.
Ruby. I got a call from a woman formerly known as Janet who lived in Bridle Trails, a neighborhood in Kirkland. Her name was slippery; she claimed local NPR reporter Ruby De Luna had stolen hers and she was without one; seemed legit. We hit it off, the rent was reasonable, and the house was a nice in a suburbanish way. I moved in.
She was a real treat. Parts of the house were cluttered, tables and countertops stacked with junk. Just assorted objects that never found a home. I was used to keeping everything neat and put away but what the hell; it was no big deal. Oh I forgot to mention: fka Janet was drop-dead gorgeous. And sure enough, thank my lucky stars, within a few weeks we graduated from housemates to lovers. I never said one word about the clutter; I wasn't that stupid. But it slowly disappeared. Before long all those poor lost objects had found a home somewhere. Ruby baby!
Rain at night. Janet's house was my first home in the PNW, and I loved it. I was enthusiastic about the climate. I would lie in bed at night listening to the steady trickle of rain and quietly rejoicing. I loved to hear the rain; I still do. I have a mild case of reverse SAD: more than 3 or 4 sunny days in a row is too many; I start to feel battered by the sun. I'm always sweetly relieved when gray skies return, my lovely gray blanket. I like the color gray a lot, especially with a touch of violet, like #ccc8cf.
Janet & I shared neopagan leanings, a side effect of majoring in Comparative Mythology on my end; dunno what her excuse was. We celebrated some pagan holidays and had some folks over for neopagan potluck dinner celebrations. Even went to the Camlann ren faire joint in Carnation for a medieval feast once. That's as close as I ever got to the SCA.
Tigers Lily & Lulu. Janet's household included 2 cats, sorta: Tiger Lily and her daughter Tiger Lulu, both gray tabbies. They had belonged to a previous housemate who just moved out and left them. Janet wasn't interested in the cats, so they had gone feral. But there was a cat door into the garage, and Janet put dry food out for them regularly. I loved sharing my flat with the cats I adopted in Tallahassee, so I was fascinated by the two feral Tigers. I started feeding and hanging out with them in the garage. At first they ran out when they saw me there, but hunger got the better of them and they got used to me. During the time I lived with Janet I was able to redomesticated Tiger Lily and was making a little progress with Tiger Lulu, who'd been abandoned as a kitten so had never really been domestic.
Just melted my heart. Tiger Lily was extravagantly affectionate with me. She liked to hang out on my chest when I would lie down and nuzzle my face, giving me sandpapery little cat kisses. Even better, every now and then she would reach her head up and ever so gently bite me on the nose, a love bite if ever there was one.
Salsa. Janet and I had heard about Subud and it sounded really cool. We got opened and started going to latihan every week. A disappointment, nothing there but the same old religious claptrap in a different outfit. But we did get exposed to partner dancing; love works in mysterious ways. A dance teacher taught simple salsa at a Subud social. We were hilariously inept as we struggled to walk through basic salsa footwork; no new dancers were born that night. But one was conceived.
Never work for The Man; work for yourself. I needed a job. I got hired as a waiter at André's in Bellevue, a SE Asian/French fusion joint in a strip mall. André's wife was impressed by my credentials as a maitre d' with 10 years experience. But André's wasn't like Mataam Fez. The Fez had been leisurely; diners lingered for hours. I was valued for my creative ability to connect with people. If you're valued for who you are you're not working for The Man, you're working for love. Nice work if you can get it. André's was high-volume, turn 'em fast. It was the first time I'd been fired, a sign better days were coming. I needed to get fired one more time to get the message.
Gardening. I put up a flyer on the Kirkland PCC bulletin board advertising my services as a gardener. My dad got me started vegetable gardening in the 60s. He gave me my own little plot at one end of our really big veg garden in Asheville, where I tried, with mixed failure, to grow things he didn't, like carrots & pumpkins. In the real garden he grew corn, tomatoes, green beans and summer squash. By the end of the summer our two basement freezers were chock full of those plus peaches we bought from a man in a truck. I used to take a spoon downstairs, pull out a tub of frozen peaches in syrup, and scrape bites of frozen peach syrup off the top, yum!
I told them Colorado was the problem. In Boulder I became a Master Gardener. I volunteered to sit behind a table littered with flyers and an enormous ring binder of info sheets in a Boulder mall. I mostly told people what was wrong with their turf grass. Colorado is hard on turf. KBG don't like it there. Buffalo grass is not what most people think of as turf.
I loved those horses, and they responded. I got a response to my gardening flyer from a woman who lived in Woodinville; she wanted help with her yard and her horses. There was a picture of me on the back of Blue, the gentler of the two horses we had in Pineville. I was being led around the enclosure on Blue; that was the extent of my equine experience. But hey, she wasn't asking me to ride 'em. I fell in love with her horses. She explained horses to me. Cats & dogs are predators; they have hunter instincts. Horses are ancestrally prey animals, with a keen eye out for predators. They're quick to shy, but exquisitely sensitive in a way predators aren't.
Walking papers. Janet wanted to get married. I always thought that marriage wasn't the right thing for me. I was right, it was not for me, but I had to find that out for myself the hard way. So I didn't rise to the occasion, and soon after that she handed me my walking papers; it was all or nothing for her. Luckily, Keith now had an opening in his house. But I loved my time in Bridle Trails; there was a lot of richness packed into those eight months. Tiger Lily came with me to Keith's house.
Coda. The tale has an odd little coda: Janet and I had planned to start taking partner dance lessons shortly before our breakup. Janet was not one to back out of anything, and so despite being broken up, we took Swing 1 with Walter and Nancyanna Dill in June 1992. It was awkward being together, but we toughed it out through the full 6 weeks of class. She disappeared from dance after that, but I was launched, and I was in dance classes from then on.