07 May 2007

Deeply Moving

Meet the new neighbors! Even though it is entirely
landlocked, residents of Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood
insist on wearing uniforms with a quasi-naval theme...
and carrying comically large signs that represent the area's
Year of Glory.


We've done it. We've moved to Greenwood, which is precisely 6.9518 nautical miles (8 miles or 64 furlongs. -Ed.) and 71 years (1,851.07143 fortnights. -Ed.) from Chinatown. To wit, it is a long-ass ways in both quality of life and crow's flight from my previous place of residence. My new residence was built during the depression (1937 to be exact) and my neighbors seem to be of the same era, at least in terms of gregariousness. Or maybe it's their Tom Joad-ishness. Dunno. Anyway, as would be the case with any time/space traveler, I'm feeling unhinged at the moment in ways both good and bad. I'm like Dave Bowman at the end of Kubrick's 2001, filling one leg of my spacesuit with the pee of joy, and the other with the pee of abject terror. Lemme 'splain:

I lived in downtown Seattle for over 14 years. As it is in the coal-black heart of any large American city, noise, crowds and angst are constant companions. Rhesus monkeys raised in conditions similiar to downtown Seattle turned to cannibalism, and Seattle compared to other urban areas in America is freaking benign. I can only imagine that if you raised primates in conditions mirroring downtown Los Angeles, they might do something truly psychopathic like join Amway. Still though, living for more than a decade in a sea of 800,000 people who, on a minute-by-minute basis, want to take your parking space, your wallet and your girlfriend is, shall we say, a wee stressful.

Now I'm in Greenwood which is still inside Seattle proper, according to the map at least. But judging from the demeanor of its residents, you'd swear on your mother's wooden leg that you'd dropped straight through the Mayberry hatch. People greet you. They smile. They wave. And I'm talking about people you don't know. Excuse me, let me clarify: people you don't even fucking know. Example: we were somewhere in the neighborhood, looking at two cats lounging in someone's living room window that were - I swear - the size of ottomans. (The cats were the size of ottomans, not the window or the living room. The Ottoman Turks were, by the way, a gigantic people. -Ed.) Now anywhere else in Seattle you might get greeted with a stern middle finger or an even sterner firearm for staring into someone's front window. Not in Greenwood. The lady of the house just waved and smiled at us as big as you please. I don't know which amazed me more, the size of her cats or the size of her cheeriness.

Second example: I met my neighbors. Met the neighbors! They came across the street and introduced themselves. (Ward and Yoshi, in case you're interested. Nice folks. Ward uses a manual push mower, so he can't be all bad. -Ed.) And it's not just the people, it's the - whattaya callit - the nature, the environment...you know environment, that thing with all the dirt and twigs and animals and stuff. That thing. I have a gi-mongous yard now that has nature all over it. Quick tally - three apple trees, four or more lilac bushes, raspberries, blackberries, tulips, bamboo; umm..buncha other stuff...parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme - oh yeah, and The Rhubarb That Ate Manhattan. I got up this morning and went out and had coffee on my stoop and listened to the birds. The air was packed full of birdsong! They were jamming! It was like karaoke night in my cedar tree or something! For a minute I thought to myself, "Man, I wonder if all that racket is going to wake up the neighbors." And then I thought, "Oh by the mangy beard of Baby Jesus, what have I become?" It took me a while to key down and actually enjoy the moment.

Since the move only happened on Saturday, I'm still having to tie up loose ends. I have neither my InterWebs nor my fancy-schmancy satellite TV hooked up at the new place yet, so for all intents and purposes I could've moved back to 1937 and not even know it. I do have a radio in the house, but all it tells me when I turn it on is that Roosevelt has no plans for getting into another war in Europe, no matter how much trouble this smarty-pants Hitler fellah causes.

I'm off to the soup line. Long live the New Deal!