That's a nice-looking car by anyone's standards. We're in stop-and-go traffic, we, the communities of North Seattle and beyond, enjoying this particular stretch of I-5 in the Green Lake area and being given lots of extra time to do so. I see the situation as akin to a drive-in movie theatre: we're all alone but at once together, doing largely the same activity in our different little pods, facing the same direction in desperation, distraction, or bliss. Humourously, Interstate 5 southbound is an eight-mile parking lot from noon to 7pm, and I'm on it for the short section between 75th and 45th, debating whether to remain on the freeway or maybe try out the Eastlake corridor.
I'm in lane one, which is strangely underutilized. Just because it receives a lot of merging traffic two miles from now doesn't mean it's a not a great piece of usable real estate right here. This afternoon, though, the great human organism is ambling at about the same pace in all lanes. In lane two, just to my left and a few cars ahead, is an entry-level Cadillac sedan, metallic philodendron green with the brake lights offering a complimentary red, slowing now to a stop and before there's time to think we're woken up a little as two young men spring out the back right door, straight into crawling traffic. Late teens early twenties, Latino, with loose fitting grays and blacks, long chain necklaces, and flat-billed caps with calligraphy on them.
At such a bizarre action my first instinct is to spring to alertness, but there's no need. They're giggling. They grasp their sagging pants for locomotion and modesty, jogging one-handed toward the clustered trees and bushes on the embankment. The story comes together: they just both really, really, really needed to go. In unison they dive behind trees too small to hide them as they assuage themselves with obvious and tremendous relief.
Clever couple of cookies, I thought to myself, and bold! Traffic's going nowhere, and they jumped at the opportunity, even knowing they'd be on a stage. Everyone is indeed watching, but something's different: it is a benign and sympathetic audience. The girl in the car behind me is smiling with shocked glee, laughing richly once she understands the scene before her. It started when the boys leapt out of their car, their dress anachronistically contrasting with the luxury nature of their vehicle, their boyish giggles contradicting our assumptions of their gangster wear. The world has room for all kinds, and all of us kinds know what it feels like to desperately have to urinate.
Traffic began moving before they were done relieving themselves. I passed by the Cadillac slowly, looking over. The driver, young Latina with a Seahawks jersey and hoop earrings, a girlfriend perhaps, howling with gaiety and embarrassment as she watched the rear-view. She had to pick up the pace a little, and the boys were chasing after her. This is so absurd, their chortling faces said, necklaces swinging in the air, stepping up the tempo. The girlfriend rolled more slowly than the rest of us, attempting to please everyone while still allowing her charges to catch up.
Somehow, the drama unfolding received no wrath from the neighbors all around. It didn't make sense to be angry at this. For this stretch in space and time, we were a city of friends. No one honked. The whole thing was too funny, and the two boys knew this most of all. I saw the glowing white teeth of so many grins, laughing both at and with them, if such a thing is possible, rooting for them to make it.
I beamed for a long time afterwards, basking in the sensation of that moment, when we knew how much we have in common.