"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Now, for something totally different

By on August 24, 2020 in Columnist, Uncategorized with 0 Comments
Mike Cassidy

By Mike Cassidy

Editor

Last fall, when our one — and likely only — granddaughter was approaching six months old and her parents needed to go back to work, my wife, Donna, volunteered to babysit the tiny tot if her parents would provide housing for us.

As her parents lived in Seattle, housing would mean moving west of the mountains for us.

“We need something new, right?” my wife said in selling the idea to me.

By chance, our daughter-in-law had a condo on Capitol Hill in Seattle that renters were moving out of, so a deal was struck — we got free rent in a vibrant neighborhood just east of downtown Seattle, and the baby, named Roux, got delivered to her loving grandmother’s arms each weekday morning.

My wife and I had lived in Seattle in our early years, but as soon as we started having babies, we moved to the Wenatchee Valley, partially because we could buy a business here, but also to have a smaller town to raise children in and to be around her family. (Built-in babysitters, right? Funny how the generations change, but the motivations don’t.)

“Something new” is exactly what we found on Capitol Hill. 

First of all, in Wenatchee, when we went to an event at Pybus, or walked the Riverfront Trail or hit tennis balls at the WRAC, we were among people just like us. And by that, I mean people sporting gray hair.

But walking down Broadway street, we are definitely the oldsters. And gray hair? Orange hair, green hair, purple hair, wild hair… This city is much younger than Wenatchee, which makes for a more visual street scene.

Living on Capitol Hill in Seattle is certainly “interesting.” 

I have to say that Seattle in no way resembles some of the comments I see on Facebook — people are nice and generally polite here and the older residential areas we stroll with Roux daily are lovely and well-kept — but I also have to add it has taken a while to accept as normal seeing people sleeping on the sidewalks, sometimes only in their clothes, as if they had suddenly just fallen down. We haven’t gotten used to the street litter and tents that pop up in open areas. The homelessness is seemingly an intractable problem.

I don’t know if readers remember Evelyn in Wenatchee, who would sometimes stand at street corners and talk to cars. She was thought of as kind of cute, our town character. 

Here, we have street-corner yellers aplenty. Not so cute. 

We were sitting in a pocket park the other day, and listened to a long one-sided conversation of a street person talking about dealing with aliens from other planets. Maybe he was talking to a publisher/friend about a book he was writing — as people do ramble down the sidewalk, holding rather odd phone conversations via ear pieces — but probably not.

There was a story circulating a couple of years ago that Seattle was dying, but you certainly wouldn’t know it by the residential building going on. 

Just a few blocks from us, three block-long apartment buildings are nearing completion. And in every other block of our walks, older homes are coming down, being replaced by multi-story apartments and condo buildings.

By the way, a one-bedroom, one-bath, 700-square-foot condo goes for $500,000 to above $700,000 on Capitol Hill. And, they are selling. 

The most common job in Seattle is that of a computer programmer, with salaries of $100,000-plus. Young, single, earning more than $100,000, yeah, these condos are affordable.

Donna was disappointed by the shopping — funny to say, but cute little Seattle shops are few and far between. 

Ducking into a boutique and finding treasures for a gift or for your home is a bygone experience. Instead, Amazon Prime trucks buzz the neighborhoods. 

When the protests started, the police station three blocks from our condo was a focus, and Cal Anderson Park across the street from us was a staging area.

We went to a couple of protests — history in the making — and strolled our granddaughter through the “occupied zone” during the day. An enterprising entrepreneur set up a stand selling hot dogs ($6) we sampled while listening to earnest speeches.

I in no way want to dismiss or make light of the protests. Coming from Wenatchee, we just could not understand the urban experience and anger that propelled the protests day after day, and night after night.

Being gray-hairs (did I mention that already?), we were in bed by the time the tear gas and bang grenades were employed, but we heard the loud blasts and the shouting, along with police helicopters overhead.

At the moment, the Seattle way of talking things to death has pretty much returned the streets and parks to their normal state: women sun bathe in the park, dog-owners toss balls to off-leash pets and tech workers check their phones.

Some shop windows are boarded up (a precaution I thought silly when the coronavirus shut everything down, but later I saw the wisdom of — as my daughter-in-law said, Capitol Hill has seen troubles before), and there is graffiti everywhere.

One evening walking the occupied zone, we came upon two young women in nice dresses — one was holding a stenciled slogan while the other was carefully spraying paint. I wanted to say, “That’s not your building, shame on you,” but that impulse was the Wenatchee in me.

When I talk with friends, they want to know if we are staying safe. Safety has never been a worry here. 

First of all, we don’t put ourselves in dangerous situations — we don’t hang around bars at 2 a.m. and we don’t flash gang signs. (OK, we don’t know any gang signs, but we wouldn’t flash them if we did.)

We socially distance ourselves from the street talkers and we live in a locked building. 

(An aside: One day I noticed the back door of our building was unlocked, so I looked out into the alley way. I saw a guy standing on a window ledge peering into a second-story condo. “I’m staying here for a friend while they’re out of town,” he said. “I left my keys inside when I went out, but I left a window open, so I think I can get in.” And, I’m such a small-towner that I believed him.)

We wanted something different in our move to Seattle, and we’ve gotten it. 

That’s what new adventures are about — you can’t predict a worldwide pandemic or widespread protests — but if you keep your eyes open, you will see a fresh, new world — and in my case, a second-story man at work.

Life is more fun with occasional change. Enjoy The Good Life.

— Mike

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