Seattle – Washington state’s city that likes to think it is New York with less than a tenth of the population, a comparatively belated history, and the bereavement that is lacking residents walking about adorning shirts to declare their love with bold type and an adorably trite heart – became a muse for my aspirations as a writer.
I was skipping through the narrow intestinal tract of the Fremont district when my nose was fumigated by the aroma of, not original Starbucks’ coffee, but crap. My eyes followed the scent of repulsion to its feces frenzied source; creating the potent wake was an obliviously content woman sporting khaki shorts stained in a generous ooze of brown doodling doo that trickled from her rear, through thickets of calf hair, and into the ribbing or her once white tube socks. I turned a block earlier than planned in search of breathable air, and my baffled eyebrows relaxed. I chuckled.
I walked on and visited the Space Needle for the first time. The elevator ride up was an amusing novelty, being as my ears had never popped before on a trip to the uppermost level of a structure, but I found my prior expectations largely let down when I stepped before the infamous view; the skyline was more of a blotch, obscured by the afternoon’s fog and the city’s smog. Apparently, this was not a setback for the gleeful children skipping around the circular balcony. I overheard one girl with a voice as peppy as her pig-tails marvel aloud to her father about the “tiiiiiiiiny” people walking on the ground below. Her youthful commentary extirpated my disappointed, and I took to people watching from my metal perch, amused by how uninhibited passersby were when they thought no one was looking. I smiled.
The next stop was Pike Place, a thriving street market that pulsed with an indie vibe. Wherever there was room, there were street performances: a juggling act, a theatric parrot, and many musicians. A glimpse at the performer behind the show, however, found people generally less polished than their talents. One young woman with dreads stood in the middle of the fish market in a dusty skirt and a shredded tank top. Still, passion thrummed her acoustic guitar and she sang with opulent vocals, her sound unhampered by her ragged appearance – perhaps even refined by the struggles behind it. I reflected.
A quote from my freshman English teacher often echoes in my thoughts when I find myself in a less than ideal situation: “Most stories are depressing. If they were all happy – if they didn’t have conflict – no one would read them.” These words are far from inspirational, but they frequently help me adjust how I choose to observe and interpret the situations around me. If I enter a garden to find it lacking in flowers, I will turn my attention to the weeds and their story.
Diverse environments reveal odious flaws, subtle perspectives and thriving struggles. There is no paradise place in existence that does not know imperfection. Perhaps this seems a pessimistic statement, but I do not perceive it in those terms. The murky nuances within a location are the shading that gives contrast to create the page-turner we travel. Seattle inspired the writer I strive to be. There I found the shadows of characters, and every unique outline provided inspiration for the written fiction I constantly seek to derive from reality.
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