"How's your day goin'?"
"Oh, great," he says as he plops down in the chat seat. "I saw the parade last night."
"Yeah? How was it?"
"It was beautiful. So much to look at, so much to see. I saw the people with their tricks and floats, the cops with their trick horses. People doin' their tricks. Fire, bowling pins."
"But you know what I really saw, was I saw the people, watching the performers, and for a minute there, no matter what race, or color, or age, or background, they were all one people, watching together. Whether they were black, white, or native, we were one people." A wistful edge to his voice. Sounds right up my alley.
"I'm so glad you got to see that, and you put it very well. You describe it perfectly." I'm reminded of Norman Rockwell's later work, the socially conscious stuff art critics often forget he did. "I didnt get to see it myself, but I drove them home, and it was just as you say, everyone united in feelin' good, kids with balloons, you know."
"Yeah, I really love this city." Earlier he'd explained how he's new here, exploring, down from Alaska. "My wife and I are thinking about moving here for a year. I want to explore all this city has to offer."
"Oh yeah do it! I love this place. the longer I'm here, the more I like it. I'm from California." The neighborhoods are so distinct from one another, I tell him enthusiastically. I talk about how Seattle seems to reveal itself in phases, layers peeling away to reveal people and places you didn't realize were always there. I remember doing a project at school on Rainier Valley, and none of the educated college hipsters in my class had ever even heard of the place, despite its prodigious size and its bustling labyrinth of ever-churning life. And they felt they were generally well-versed in knowing Seattle. I hope they learn of its treasures in time. There's more to the city than Capitol HIll and the U-District!
"So this is sort of the main drag, and then over here is where you can catch the 44," I say as we arrive at 45th and the Ave. He'd been looking for a place to catch the 44 that was conducive to people-watching. The stops on 15th were "way too boring," and this seemed like a better bet. We shake hands. He is Glen. "Nathan, that's a nice name. What is that, Old Testament, or New?"
"I think Old."
"Yeah, he was friends with who, King Solomon, right?"
"Yeah, his advisor, something..."
"Yeah. Well, I might see you later. How late are you out?"
"Midnight or so."
"Be careful drivin' tonight." With a wink he adds, "some of these guys drive like they're from California!"