The bus driver honked today, and I was startled. Then I was startled that I was startled. I realised that it’s been two weeks since I’ve heard a vehicle honk. I’m falling into the slumber that is Seattle; the processes that are this campus; the muscle cramp in my leg that is the walk up the Ave.
My voice is different. When I ask questions in class, or at meetings, I catch myself trying to place it. I cannot. It speaks sooner than it has framed its sentence, but is slower, and surer of itself and the words it chooses.
How is it possible that it’s already been two weeks? It seems like only yesterday that I was running from Gate C to Gate Z at Frankfurt International, praying that I wouldn’t miss my connecting flight, which was barely a half hour later.
Ask Mr Fremont Troll – the Solstice Fair was just last Sunday. Right? RIGHT?
Yesterday, Labisha and I got asked directions. A pair of out-of-state guys came up to us, and asked where they could get good food. We rattled on about all the Thai restaurants on the Ave, and which side of the street they were on. (“The food at Thaiger is great, but the service isn’t”, “Thai 65 is nice, too”, and “Thai Tom always has a line of people waiting outside”). After waiting till they were out of earshot, we proceeded to squeal about how we’d been taken for Seattleites.
Everyone keeps asking about what I’m up to, and I always say that I can’t really explain. Our days are so tightly scheduled. They usually consist of class, and a site visit, and sometimes, even our dinners are planned. Then there’re readings and writing assignments for the next class. This last Saturday was the first free day we got. And the only, if the ‘Detailed Schedule’ is accurate. Of course, we spent it shopping.
There are so many things that I have come to associate this place with, but a few are more prominent than others. The number of homeless people I see every day. It’s strange, because I’m sure that I must see so much more of it back home, but it is so much more difficult to shrug off here. The graffiti; the colours I have come to recognise as the colours of returning home after a long day, on the last turn into campus, before the bus stops outside Alder Hall, our dorm. The dogs; the first day we got here, I remember thinking that there were unusually large populations of pets (and shops catering to them), and babies, in this city. I had to blink twice when I saw a dog in a baby-stroller.
We’ve been to the most interesting places – The Seattle Times, KUOW 94.9 FM, GeekWire, The Eatonville Dispatch – a small-town paper run by three people, Real Change – a street newspaper which sells its papers to homeless people in Seattle at subsidised rates, which they then sell to customers at full price, Marra Farm – a ‘giving garden’ which donates all of its produce to local food banks, Harvard Exit, etc. We’re meeting so many authentic people who are so passionate about what they do.
We’ve also covered the very typical, very touristy things that Seattle has to offer – Mt. Rainier, the Seattle Space Needle, the Seattle Harbour Cruise, 4th of July fireworks (that some of us watched from the dorms. Ehm. It was rainy and cold, okay!)
Today, our evening was spent networking. Every journalist we’ve met so far has emphasised the need to promote oneself. This is something that does not come naturally to me. For a few years I used to write another blog. My idea of promoting myself was telling the people I was closest to, about a new post. I left the rest to the universe; my writing would speak for itself, and I would slowly build my readership in this manner. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work. So today I went up to people I didn’t know anything about, and introduced myself. Somewhere in the midst of each conversation, I made it a point to mention that I was interested in writing. It’s a start.