We took a long weekend and made a quick trip to Florida to go to a wedding. We flew in on Thursday, and spent Friday visiting Samantha’s family, meeting her friends, and going to the wedding rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and co-ed bachelorette party. The wedding and reception were on Saturday. We spent an hour of relative quiet on the beach on Saturday evening, and spent Sunday in airplanes and airports. It felt like we were there for a week; and when the daze lifted, around the time that I finished my second cup of tea on Monday, it felt like everything had happened a week ago.
I drive out to the accountant’s office to pick up my completed tax forms. (I filed for an extension and the deadline is next week.) I find myself driving the wrong way, and have to rethink my route – backtrack from Harvard, up Eleventh from Broadway, and then down Aloha to 23rd. A police car with flashing lights blocks the outside lane on 23rd. An officer stands in the street, and a handful of people are up on the sidewalk next to a car. There’s nothing obvious wrong with the car except that it’s on the sidewalk and pointed toward traffic. Another police car slows down as it passes, the driver glances at the scene and moves on.
Now I’m down on 23rd and across the bridge. Make sure I’m in a right-turning lane, pass Husky Stadium, and switch lanes again.
I’m stopped at a red light. The car rocks left, right, and then level every time an SUV swoops past in the open right-forking lane beside mine. The Writer’s Almanac comes on the radio, Garrison Keiller’s delivery is smarmy and irritating, but I leave it on. I heard the show last week when I was driving back on this road after dropping my paperwork off at the accountant’s. On that segment, Garrison Keiller apparently had too much material. He had to rush through that reading, barely stopping long enough to breathe. It was odd.
I park the car and go inside. The accountant’s office moved last year. It’s across from a cemetery now, on a street that I used to ride down a few times a week with my ex-girlfriend whenever we drove from my house to her’s. The receptionist gives me an envelope, and I grab a pen and glance through the papers in the lobby. I return the pen without having signed anything. I’ll need to look through the forms again later. My accountant is presumably in her office down the hall, but I leave without having talking to her face-to-face at all this year.
I head back home, drive through University Village. The radio is on again, and Garrison Keiller is gone. They’re playing readings from Metro’s Poetry on Buses. One nervous reader affects an angry poet’s voice before calming down for a disarming punchline.
I pass Husky Stadium, cross the bridge, and drive up 23rd through Madison Park. A funeral procession is coming from the other direction and a police officer on a motorcycle motions approaching traffic to stop. Several cars pull over into the right lane and I follow suit. Cars in the procession are decorated with American flags and have their four-way blinkers flashing. Another officer comes along shortly and gives vague hand signals that contradict the first officer’s and southbound traffic begins moving again. I pass the tail end of the procession right where the car is parked up on the sidewalk. The same people are there – the same police car, and now a tow truck, backing up.
Playing Twenty Questions with Samantha:
Me: “Animal, vegetable, or mineral?”
“Is there one in your apartment?”
“Is there one in Seattle?”
“Is it the Space Needle?”
My adult voting record is pretty thin before the 2000 presidential election, and some might argue that, because I voted for Nader in that election, my voting record is sparse up until after the 2000 election. But back in 1984, I voted in the Arthur H. Smith School presidential election. Our balloting system was a program on the Commodore 64 in Miss Carlson’s second grade classroom. The entire school voted on that single machine. There were no paper backups, and if someone had hit “Break” (… or the Commodore equivalent. I may be remembering our Tandy computer.) and then restarted the program, all the previous votes would have been lost and no one would have known. I voted for Mondale. But Reagan won — both in the elementary school election and the adult election.
I was eight years old, but I had strong opinions about that election, or anyway I had strong feelings about it. Earlier in the campaign season I overheard my sister, Karen, talking to her boyfriend, Cory, on the phone. She turned to our brother, Chris, and told him, “Cory just said that anyone who thinks Mondale should win is an idiot.” I butted in, “Tell Cory that I think he’s an idiot.” She laughed and repeated my comment to Cory. There was less gravity in her voice than I thought was warranted. Cory’s words were taken as sparring political debate, and mine were just funny.
I followed the 1988 campaign starting with the primaries. I had two sets of caricatures of the candidates in both parties’ primaries that I’d ripped out of news magazines. As candidates drop out of the race, I cut their caricatures out of the pictures, until only Bush and Dukakis were left. (I don’t remember how I handled Gary Hart, who dropped out, re-entered, and then dropped out again.)
On the night of the November ’88 election, I watched the TV coverage up until I left to go to a Boy Scout meeting. Dukakis wasn’t far behind Bush in the popular vote, but he’d only picked up Massachusetts in the Electoral College count. I tried to express how wrong this seemed to me to some of the other scouts, but no one was sympathetic.
My brother, Justin, has me wandering around the kitchen, repeating, “There’s no place like home,” over and over on the morning after the 1988 election.
A young guy in a striped shirt pushes a Livejournal page up and down across his laptop screen, giggling. His girlfriend looks at him quizzically, and he turns the computer around to show her. She looks hard at the screen for a moment and smiles approvingly. The guy says, “I think that’s my new favorite site.” He turns the computer back around, just as a kid with nappy hair walks into the room. The street kid holds up a cardboard sign with a green haloed splotch painted on it. He waits a beat, then turns around and walks right back out.
Woman standing in a grocery store checkout line late at night, laughing into a cellphone: “Heh heh heh. You quoted me. . . Verbatim! . . . Bitch.”
A couple of weeks ago, a younger guy saw me taking pictures of a Parking sign that had been tagged to oblivion. He stopped and asked me several short questions, losing interest when he worked out that I wasn’t doing my own graffiti. I asked him if he was a tagger, and he gave a dry response, “No. Those kind of people should be put in jail.”
I saw him today when I was walking up Pike after dinner. This time he was tearing away at several layers of posters that were plastered on a blank wall. I’ll have to check up on that spot tomorrow.