Seattle: Finding The (downtown) Sound

One of two signs at The Turf warning against extra sound

Considering Seattle is a town that puts Pop Rocks in its cheesecake so you can hear your pie, holds a private worship of Nirvana in an unspoken and unshakable belief, and has a fan base called the 12's who set sound records, I am never surprised to sit in the downtown corridor and hear a pin drop. 

We had an appointment downtown today with Share House to shop for some furniture for our new house and we rode in style on The Sounder for the first time. Taking the train shaves about three buses and a little more than an hour off a trip that for J and I becomes increasingly bittersweet. We had breakfast at Ludi's, formerly known as The Turf, and forever known as The Turf by a homeless community that never has to be ashamed within its doors, where the searching can get a Bloody Mary at 6:30 in the morning, and where the bartender, whose domain is separated only by a curtain from the front of the restaurant, has no idea who Anthony Bourdain is.

There's a lot of speculation about how long that bartender has been there. Usually, most say, "His whole life probably." That would be about 70 years, then. He let us eat in the bar today in a booth, although we don't order cocktails anymore. He knows us, knows where we've been, and his demeanor is the same. Too cool to know how cool The Turf is and far too the real article to care about the world of foodie reality shows, however poetic they may be. We told him we didn't know why Anthony Bourdain didn't stop in on an episode of No Reservations about Seattle.

"Who?"

"Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations, foodie show."

"Don't know who that is. I'm sure he'd like it."

A shrug. I shrugged back and smiled. I ordered the Moko Loko and J ordered the Chicken Fried Steak. 

Breakfast at The Turf, a veritable institution of all that is so wrong its right


We saw a few old friends, one in particular who saddened me with where she is right now. I understand, she understands, we didn't say much to one another. Sometimes, excessive noise is indeed the worst possible choice when a hug demonstrates every letter of every word one could ever think of to say in that moment. J and I ate breakfast and talked about our first date, Christmas Day, 2013, early in the morning, at The Turf. Just to be anywhere, but especially there, homeless at the holidays.

From inside The Turf

We walked through The Market and in a dark floral dress, I posed with the latest copy of Vogue as the antique paths through the newsstand and the produce stands were starting to heat up with shoppers.  The city is already beginning to look different to us and we look different to the city. People talk to us differently, seem to regard us differently. 

Me and Vogue at The Market

Listen for The Passion at Benaroya

We walked to Victor Steinbrueck Park and didn't see anyone we knew. We talked about the last time, homeless, we sat on those benches. We looked at the newcomers, we silently prayed for them and wished them as good a trip as we had. We walked on to Benaroya Hall and saw this sign. Listen For The Passion. That's when I heard the pin drop, the noise of a city that can deafen you with its silence at times. 

 We saw a friend on the corner at Mimosa, which is near the main shelter at DESC.  He looked us over, up and down, and decided we look like we're doing very well. He was pleased. He asked us for a dollar which would be unthinkable not to give. Homage where homage is due, brother can you spare a dime? If you didn't learn that, you learned nothing. J and I looked at each other. It's really over, we live in a house now. We're getting furniture now. This district is not quite ours anymore, but we still want to reach out and touch it. 

As we left the city, I saw a man I had never seen before. An older man, I knew he was homeless, dragging a suitcase. He looked into my eyes and I saw fear and shame. He didn't know who he was looking at, didn't know I had dragged a suitcase up the same streets. And he didn't know I love him, so I whispered it, and he looked up and away, and down, and I said it a little louder.

"I love you, too, my sweetheart." J's drawl broke through the thick unspeakable exchange between me and a homeless man I will according to street law, never see again or see absolutely every time I am downtown for some time to come.  I looked up, and we were there. At the train station, new treasures from Share House in bags, the furniture to be delivered in a couple of weeks. I took J's picture and we went home to a world away from the one we have known. I put my fingers to my lips and kissed the air. I'll be back next month, maybe before, just to see you, to hear you, Seattle. To look at your concrete that rested my head as I fell asleep watching The Sound and listening to your heart beat. 

My sweetheart at the train

The Sound, April 2, 2015

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