what was I saying?

Ship and Train
The M.V. Kennicott, a freight train, and an excellent cloud.

I know I’m sleep deprived because I can’t hold a thought for as long as it takes to turn my head from left to right. When I move around, I am double and triple checking to make sure I have all my parts. (So far the only loss has been my favorite yellow Kleen Kanteen, which I left on the table in the Streamliner Diner on Bainbridge Island.)

I loved the hostel where I stayed in Seattle — called The American Hotel, no “s” — but last night sucked for sleep. The first night, I had a single room with an unexpected upgrade to a private bathroom with a bathtub. That was a gift beyond imagining. I got some sleep and woke up to a male pigeon trying with utmost sincerity to woo a girl bird on the awning below my window. The window had no screen — CAUTION — DO NOT SIT ON LEDGE — DO NOT LEAN OUT — so the first thing I did was stick my head out to say hi to the pigeons. I felt right at home.

Last night, I had to move into a dorm. This is a busy summer weekend downtown, and the hostel filled up with Toronto Blue Jays fans — visiting for a game with the Mariners — and also lots of Girl Scouts. One of those groups totally ignored the NO ALCOHOL IN THE ROOMS rule and it got pretty rowdy on the fourth floor. I also had two roommates and the window was wide open. First there were the post-game fireworks two blocks away at Safeco Field and then there were these crazy loud seagulls. Who knew seagulls had so much to say all night long? Also, some guys yelling and then a few bottles thrown down in the street.

The hostel is in a gritty neighborhood but, except for the sleeping part, I didn’t mind at all. I have resolved not to be a complainer on this trip. When I thought for a minute they were going to put me into a 6-person instead of 4-person dorm, I held my tongue. Even the drunk guy who rode by on a broken-down bicycle and hollered that he liked my boobies didn’t bother me. So when I say last night sucked for sleep, that’s really not a complaint. It’s just an observation.

Bird on a bus in Bellingham
Bird and bugs on a bus in Bellingham, with bricks.

Still, I was glad to get on the Amtrak Cascades train for Bellingham this morning. What a nice train that is! It’s a smooth ride along the water, and it rocks rather than rattles you. The attendant was cheerful and had a gorgeous French accent — you’d want to go wherever she’s taking you. I napped a little and when I woke up we were very close to the station here in easygoing Bellingham. (The train goes on to Vancouver, B.C.) I feel that I am mellowing out as I move north.

I wandered up the hill to a cafe where the server sat me down by a window. When she gestured to the perfectly placed table for one and asked, “Would you like to sit here?” I said yes and my eyes suddenly filled with tears. I know I’m tired, but I think it was mostly a happiness response. Also, at that moment, Jane Kenyon‘s poem “Otherwise” appeared in my mind:


I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

I can’t know what’s next, but my life in this moment is astonishingly good.

When I look over my shoulder here, I see nothing but the MV Kennicott, which is an even bigger boat than I expected. We board in about twenty minutes, and that’s where I’ll be until Thursday. Thanks so much for reading and for your responses. More notes to come!

6 thoughts on “what was I saying?

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