Domesticity: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 14

Part 1: The Grandview

I’ve not been able to shelter much in place during this crisis, but every time I get the chance to stay home, I enjoy the domesticity. To have this place to take shelter in as my work hours begin to stretch longer into the night—to still afford to make rent when many will not, come April Fool’s—is a privilege I don’t take for granted.

It’s not just that I’m grateful to be housed; I actually love this apartment on the edge of Amazonia. I love our high ceilings and these walls of some mystery blend of khaki or grullo or tan. I love how we’ve gradually made it more homey in the almost two years we’ve been here; for most of my life, I’ve lived somewhere along the spectrum of museums to childhood and accommodation too temporary to bother making my own, so it’s nice to settle down and get cozy for once.

I also love what this place represents; our building has been here as long as the neighborhood has existed, and over the years, it’s become a haven for artists who go to the nearby arts college and other misfits who haunt the local metal bars. That comes with the good and the bad, in terms of micro-culture—probably the closest thing to neighborliness I’ve felt here was during a fire scare last winter, when someone very kindly woke us up by pounding on our door so hard, it dislodged our doorknob. It’s good to know that someone cared.

In any case, this place is aggressively not “South Lake Union,” and I like that.

Part 2: Cats

We’ve all seen that meme about cats and quarantine, and I’d like to confirm that the theory is accurate—cats were made for times like these.

These photos were all taken by @csideview, both here and in Lebanon, where Suki and Piper still live, and where they remain experts in crisis management for the humans. Their cousins from Amreeka, Riley and Mei, are quickly catching up. They structure my time, keep me focused on the positive, and insist on breaking the 6ft rule because they’re heroes who live for others.

Suki was the very first cat in what was up to that point a typical germaphobic and furniture-protecting Lebanese household—animals are fine, but let’s just keep them outdoors and at a scrap-throwing distance. Then she entered our lives because of the American; “I guess every home needs an American,” said the cat rescue person who brought her to us. So then we became a family of one cat, then two, then four… That’s exactly how these creatures domesticated us as a species.

Piper was my second cat, rescued as a kitten from outside our building. She was born with malformed eyes and is functionally blind, but call her disabled and she’ll sock you in the mouth. This little bruiser is an inspiration and motivator.

Mei’s the oldest and knew this building as a kitten, long before Christine and I ever met. She’s also lived in the suburbs and spent much of her adult life outdoors, going on more adventures than most balls of fluff with her sweet temperament; those two are a lot alike.

And finally we have Riley, the newest member of the gang. Some of you might recall how she’d survived a coyote attack as a kitten, and since that time, her origin story makes a lot more sense. This is the cat for whom the adage about curiosity was written. We love her to bits.

I’ve been seeing a lot more cats on Zoom these days; if we accomplish anything when all is said and done, let us make workplaces cat-friendly. The dogs have revealed themselves to be a major liability.

Part 3: Cascade

There’s a woman in a teal coat, with a hood drawn right around her face, who stands outside our building every day, to stare at her phone and smoke a cigarillo. I’ve seen her around before, but since this crisis began, she’s stopped leaning against the wall to smoke. Instead, she now stands in the dead center of an empty parking lot, head bowed, palm up, perfectly still—a living statue to our socially distant times. It’s a little weird but I like it—kinda like this whole neighborhood.

People in our building are extremely awkward and almost never say hello. It took me a while to get used to that when we first moved in, and I’m not even a hi-diddly-ho kinda guy. But in spite of that general chill, our building’s developed a culture of almost excessive generosity; at any point in the week, you’ll find stuff downstairs that people are giving away. Clumps of rosemary, stacks of art zines, this chair that I’m sitting on right now—it’s a little weird, but I like it.

When I think about it, the eerie quiet of this time is not that different from most weekends, except maybe in summer. Even though plenty of condos makes this an unexpectedly residential neighborhood, I don’t see that many people walking around; I don’t know where the Amazonians go when they clock-out. But I don’t mind that; I like this spooky stillness in the heart of Seattle.

And even living next door to l-5 isn’t a big deal, though I feel like a traitor for admitting it. This hulk of a building renders the constant rumble of traffic—even now, under quarantine—into a gentle stream of white noise, like an ersatz river winding through the foothills, down towards the little lake.

This place is post-industrial but feels suburban. We have our little rhythms and our local haunts; I can’t wait to grab a beer at the German pub next door, when things get back to normal. Sometimes the company men who hang out here can be entitled douchebags, but there’s still a small-town spirit in the spaces between the towers with the mystery names like Doppler and Atlas and Houdini South. This place is very weird, but I like it.

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