Samantha and I were walking downtown at around 6:30 last night and I noticed all the lights on the top floor of Two Union Square blink off at once. Then the lights on the next floor down went out and the top floor lights came back on. The pattern cascaded down the top half of the building, a couple of floors at a time and then repeated itself before the first pattern had completed.
Three years ago, the Eiffel Tower flashed at me in the same way. I’d spent the previous couple of hours trying to contact the friend who’s couch I was meant to be sleeping on that night, at one point standing outside his apartment, calling out his name. Buildings in Paris aren’t wired for doorbells. I’d finally given up and called around to find a bed at a hostel. I was worn down, and was just realizing that the trip was pretty much over. I would go to bed, get up the next morning, and head off to the airport. So I stood there — beside a phone booth, above a Metro station, near the Arc de Triomphe — trying to hang onto the trip for another moment. Then the Eiffel Tower winked at me – a quick flash of sparkling lights zipped up and down the length of the tower. I recognized that that was as good as it was going to get that night, so I heaved my belongings onto my back and walked down the steps into the Metro.
When Two Union Square stopped flashing, I told Samantha about the Eiffel Tower. She’d heard the story before, so I tried to draw it out a little, “Maybe there was someone else somewhere in Seattle, who just saw the Two Union Square lights flashing, and who was also in Paris that time, looking at the Eiffel Tower at the same time that I was.”
We had resumed our walk up toward Capitol Hill. In her left hand, Samantha was carrying a dozen roses that I hadn’t given her. She said, “No. Probably not.”