As you may know, we left on Thursday to Washington and returned yesterday. What you might not have known, was that we left on Thursday to make it to the Canadian consulate in Seattle.
We left around four in the morning and, as usual, arrived early, and Victor and I waited in the lobby. As I was still half asleep when we left the car, I forgot to take a notebook or my computer along and took instead, a book. My brain, however, is not very apt to immersing in fiction before seven in the morning so instead of reading I reached into my mother’s purse for a few random bits and pieces of paper. Onto them I jotted down my surroundings.
Might I share?
The sun hasn’t risen yet and the clouds are being hurried along by an icy wind. The whole city seems to be stirring slowly from a restful sleep. Its eyes are blinking slowly and it inhales deeply. It’s a chilling breath, cold, and maybe a little salty; the harbor is just over yonder. The city snuggles back into its warm grey blanket, just a little while longer before the sun comes out and jolts it wide awake.
We left the car in one of those covered parking lots a couple of blocks away and the elevator we took down to the first floor was already full this early in the morning. The streets were already abuzz and buses swished past, their exhaust pipes sighing and announcing they’d been up all night and were ready for bed.
We crossed the streets along with handfuls of other dawn witnesses. Women with tight holds on their coffee cups, men scanning their papers while managing impressive sprints from one sidewalk to the other, each one with places to go, answers to give, questions to ask, things to accomplish. Smiles sprinkled the crowd, as did frowns, laughs, determined glances, and a couple of hazy not quite awake expressions completed the array of expressions.
On the corner, an older black male sings a few lines of “He’s got the whole world, in His hands” until he glances up at us grins and hollers, “Only a dollar folks! News right here!” and holds up a copy of The Seattle Times. Daddy smiles and greets him with a “Good morning” He answers, “Good morning, young man!” Making Daddy promote him to the smartest man in Seattle.
We arrive at the consulate and pick a comfy seat facing the doors to wait. Victor and I will be there for a while. Up above the doors is a circular glass window sparkling and through it the sunrise reflected on the windows of the adjacent building is seen. The glass doors at the entrance are gleaming and telling of someone’s hard work. I can see through those doors; I can see the people scurrying by. I wonder where they are all going. I wonder what type of lives they lead, where they have to be, where they have to go. I wonder about their mistakes, I wonder about their successes. What are their names? I will never know any of this.
Inside the building heels click on the tile floor. The floor is a creamy beige and when the beige ends pastel tiles alternate instead. It was shined recently. Good mornings are exchanged by the clusters of people passing through the building’s first floor. Some go upstairs to their respective workplaces, other are simply passing through to get to the other side of the street, or to stop like bees for their nectar at the Starbucks across the hall. The bartista laughs an easy laugh and confirms orders. I imagine the whole building probably smells of Latte’s, Macchiatos, and caramel.
A couple of ladies sit on a sofa nearby while they sip their coffees. Fragments of their conversations whiff over to me. They are gossiping about the “control freak upstairs” who obsesses about how food should be placed on the table and how atrocious that is, and the like.
Outside a flash of pink passes by. Sometimes I wonder why people dye their hair such stunning colors, and whether I’d ever be brave enough to do such a thing. A siren wails and moans somewhere near then it drifts off out of reach from my ears. Heels click and gossips continue inside. I wonder how they’re doing upstairs.
Young women in short coats and even shorter skirts pass by; they teeter atop summits they erroneously call heels. Aren’t they cold? Other ladies pass by in vans and jackets; they are smiling. I think they’re warm. My thoughts are interrupted by Thank-you’s being shouted back to bartistas over the whirling noise of the coffee machines.
There is such a variety of coats! Coats with fur trimmings, coats with rose buds embroidered on the waist, lilac coats, plaid coats, purple coats, green coats, beige coats, trench coats, rain coats, dress coats. Red coats are abundant as are the classic blacks. Lengths differ so much I don’t believe I’ve seen two with the same hem length yet. Boots are another species with an astounding array. Boots with heels rivaling skyscrapers, comfortable flats, rain boots, cowboy boots, pointed tips, rounded tips, squared tips, and I’ve been here only an hour.
In front of me a man sits and laughs into his cell phone. His laugh makes me smile. I never heard a laugh replicate a choppy ha ha ha ha so well. He gesticulates with his free arm an startles an elderly woman walking past him. He smiles apologetically. His voice is so whistley! It must be hard to be on the other side of the phone with him I think.
The entrance officer has changed. A straw-blonde boy stands in the place of the last guard. He is about a foot shorter than the last guard, an African-American lady with a pleasant smile and a calm demeanor. This boy seems bored to death at his post.
Three joggers jog by. Wait. Joggers? In the middle of Seattle? Yes. I suppose it is a common sight for big city dwellers, I though, would never have put the two together for some reason, so I found it interesting.
The bartista walks into a hidden door and comes out with four gallon of milk. These people are busy! I wonder if somewhere, anywhere! there’s a Starbucks that isn’t busy. I make a mental note to study their marketing history.
Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. Someone is wearing unusually heavy heels. Two men pass by and one exclaims, “That’s sad” to which the other replies, “That’s very sad.” What is? A school bus darts by the building. What’s it like to grow up here in such a city? I wonder. Oh my. Four more gallons of milk!
The pastel tiles aren’t as shiny anymore.