Spring in the Northwest is practically indistinguishable from winter except there are more flowers. Summer is moody and coy and not entirely certain if she wants to stay or go. Not to mention that all the tourists hit town en route to the islands or to Alaska on a big white cruise ship. Winter is…well, winter
Fall is definitely the best season—golden days and blue skies, warm afternoons and a cool nights and the smell of wood smoke. And fall in Seattle with Mac—it doesn’t get any closer to perfection—at least not in this lifetime. Before I even notice it, I forget all the weirdness and my misgivings and I’m walking around in that haze of stunned gratitude and self absorption that envelops you when you’re absolutely crackers over someone.
We do all the same things we did last year, but the world seems to be playing in Technicolor instead of black and white. When he touches my arm to point out a golden eagle at Discovery Park, I shudder lightly with desire. Long walks along the waterfront—yes, it rains and we get soaked, but so what? We go home and warm up in bed. Bargain movie matinees, cheapie concerts and films at the University of Washington, cruising used bookstores.
We hit every ice cream place in town, conducting our own taste tests. We jog along the waterfront. We ride the ferries to Bainbridge, Vashon, Bremerton. The destination never matters; the object is simply to be on the water.
Sometimes we take long drives while I give him shit about emissions standards for trucks. In spite of pollution guilt, I secretly love riding in the Elky. No matter where we go, somebody wants to strike up a conversation about it, what year it is, whether it’s a 454 or Turbo Jet 400. Mac isn’t really a gearhead, though. His feelings about vehicles are limited to a certain loyalty to the Elky, almost the way he might feel about an old favorite horse.
At Snoqualmie Falls early one Sunday morning, we stand silent on the observation deck watching the water plunge over the cliff and thunder into the gorge below. We splurge on overpriced pancakes in the rustic chic Salish Lodge, and sit there for an hour after we’re through, arguing about the Mariners and the Dodgers. We hike the trails on the flanks of Mt. Rainier to stare at the changing leaves, wander mutely through the green cathedrals of rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula.
We eat hamburgers on the deck at Green Lake Jake’s, watching the skaters and cyclists and families with kids and dogs congregate around Green Lake in the cool sunny afternoons. Sometimes there’s a steel drum band playing over by the bathhouse and it feels like we’re on vacation. We hold hands and stare at each other and drink beer and it’s almost possible to forget that winter’s early darkness is coming on.
Because the bakery doesn’t sell bread on Sunday or Monday, I’m off on Saturday and Sunday nights. I go to Bailey’s, hang out there reading books and drinking wine. Then after closing sometimes Kenny’s wife Roz comes over, sometimes CM shows up and we all go out for pizza or Thai food or Chinese noodles at one or another late night place.
Mac and Kenny know most of the other bartenders, so they always send us a bottle of wine or comp a round of drinks and we eat great food and laugh and talk until they throw us out. Then I go home with Mac and we make love or sometimes, if we’re too tired, we just fall asleep spooned up together. When I open my eyes in the gray half-light, we’re already a tangle of arms and legs and soft, faded blankets.
CM finally says, “Why don’t you just give him a key?” so I do, and when she’s out of town, he stays at our place, going to sleep after I leave for work at eleven. In the morning when I get home he might be drinking coffee by the window or propped up in bed reading. Or he might be asleep, only waking up when I come in. I undress, slip under the comforter next to him, and the bed is warm from his heat and it smells of him, like the woods, and the very first touch of his skin on mine steals my breath away, like jumping into icy water.
He always holds me till I fall asleep, and he leaves so quietly that I never know. I just wake up at three and he’s gone. I like that—not having to watch him leave.