This morning I went to a coffee shop called The Shack in West Seattle. It is close to the water, close to the harbor, close to the freeway. It used to be a mechanic's shop, a garage. It still has the garage door, open to today's fresh fall sun. The rooms are small, the ceiling low, the walls of old plaster, rough and smooth, the kind that shows the movement and the stillness of the trowel. The walls are ochre and covered with Northwest memorabilia: snowshoes, a lady in a 40s hat and white gloves standing in front of Mount Rainier, and under the glass on the dark wood table in front of me is a picture of Bill and Hillary Clinton circa 1975…
Man, those two have big teeth.
They're painting the place white in nine days. The owners, that is. I am so glad. The ochre garage sale explosion has kept me out, I feel like I'm being shouted at by the past. Bill and Hillary for fuck's sake! I do not need this with my latte.
But this place, it is changing. It is under new ownership.
There's a new mural on the south wall outside, a magical scene from the woods: a bear wearing a salmon scarf sits astride a log, holds a paddle that is marked with green stars. A barn swallow hovers large... she has just this second turned toward you. The scarlet bands on her cheeks are echoed in the red rose that grows from the forest floor. (Why do roses always ring of magic?) There are silhouettes of trees and water reflects and golden globes are filled with musical notes.
This place is changing.
And I am too. I am letting go of my grip on figuring out how to save the world. I am believing in the power of stories and giving myself permission to live a life that is creative, where I can write the kinds of stories I want to read.
And the weirdest part of it is that a lot of the softening and reorganizing seems to be happening while I nap. Today I slept for 20 minutes after lunch and I felt like a pond teeming with life, a pond stewarded by fairies. It's like the new owners are redecorating while the blinds are down. When I woke up, I put on some red lipstick and walked up to my neighborhood bakery to write some more.