Seattle today! Helena Tomorrow… maybe.
I had only been to Seattle briefly, passing through until now. But today, Joel and I ran around that city like nobody’s business. The forecast had called for lots of rain, but lo and behold, it was the most fantastic day imaginable. Everywhere we looked, it was a scene straight out of that computer game Myst. The sun was shining on the water as we took the ferry from Bainbridge Island to the city. On the Island, we are staying with Joel’s Uncle, who has an amazing house with his wife, who was unfortunately visiting family in Japan as she often does. So sadly, I didn’t get to meet her. Their house, which they designed themselves, is just a beautiful example of traditional Japanese design. And the Zen-like feeling is palpable. Simple wood, glass, and bamboo surrounded by acres of forest- needless to say, it was a more relaxing stay than anywhere else we could have imagined. I soaked in the deep Japanese hot bath for quite a while before retiring to bed in a casual kimono- I forget the word for it. It was wonderful. Today we walked from the ferry terminal over to the fish market, up to find a place where Joel remembered having great Russian Pieroshky, which we did find and enjoy very much. We found the Seattle Public Library, which I have been reading about since I had heard of its design, and it was amazing to see in real life. I get to cross another famous architect off my list of buildings to see- Rem Koolhaas! I don’t think I’ll ever beat meeting Daniel Liebskind though. 🙂 We then walked up to the retail core, where I saw this amazing restauraunt called Purple which had this ridiculously huge spiral staircase in the middle surrounding their open, cylindrical wine storage. They had big dark, gothic looking light fixtures hanging from the double height ceiling that looked like they held big candles, which I’m sure were really light fixtures, but the effect was stunning. It was very Sarah and Ted. 🙂 It would be so much fun travelling with friends, we decided. Running around there, a couple of couples, would be so much fun. Joel is really good though about shopping with me and looking with me at things I like. Which brings me to my next subject.
We need to shop a lot less. Saving money has never been a forte for either of us, but its time to stop making excuses. So many people want to live a lot richer than they are. Maybe our parents or grandparents generation are doing ok now, but we don’t see the half-lifetime worth of work that has gone into preparing that lifestyle. Some of the people our age have inherited some of their wealth, or a position to make wealth from that same source, but for most of us, we need to realize that hard, hard work is the way to come by wealth. And that wealth needs to build slowly but surely over a number of years. We need to learn to accept that the house we want and the housing we can afford are often two different things most often these days. Think of where your parents were living when they were in their twenties, versus where they are living now. We decided to be starving students, but refusing to acknowledge that decision is not getting us anywhere. We can only dig ourselves out of debt steadily, or rack it up and suffer forever. And for what? Stuff? One good thing about moving seasonally is that it keeps your pack-ratted shit in check. That card someone gave you years ago- did it change your life? Then go ahead and throw it away. People want to keep things with sentinental value, but they could really just keep the memory. Or take a picture and store it on the internet. The thought of how much money I have spent sickens me. Some in worthwhile endeavors, some on pure bullshit. I wish I could just have the money back for all the things I bought. But going forward, I just need to remember that. In fact, today I found a book of Buddhist essays on the urge to spend and consume, which would be cool to read, to bolster my resolve. But I decided to just go ahead and keep that $17.95 and walk away. I could look up the subject on the internet for free if I really care to read up. Joel and I both have a weakness for books and magazines, which is ok to a certain extent. Its somewhat justified, but we still need to keep it to a minimum, and only what applies to helping make more money. When we are bored and want to spend money- hey it sounds like we have free time to be working on learning more, and working out. We just agreed to not get cable when we get to Denver. People our age consider TV a near necessity. Silly and sad.
When we get back home, I want to go through all that storage in my bedroom- all that stuff I have no idea what it is- and sell it. Everything. Cutthroat. We dont need a TV. We don’t need anything. I want to get the stuff we BOTH own down to what we can fit in the 4 Runner. That’s a large enough vehicle. A few totes for household stuff, the rest for only the most useful clothes and things. No more. Its sickening how much I have, how should I be wanting more? I thought tonight of a mantra that encompasses my goal for the winter: Aim for being the person you want to be, and not having the things you want to have. I want to keep that at the front of my mind.
I just finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which talked a lot about the nature of quality. The book was rather long winded at getting to the point, but quality is a concept I have often contemplated myself, so it kept me (barely) intrigued enough to finish it. It did get better, but not until the very end. If you include the afterward. Though the concepts could have been summed up more quickly, it did give me a lot to think about. I want to pare down the things I have and trade them for quality things. I have thought about this topic mostly in terms of architectural appplications, but I think it applies regardless. I am always drawn to things that have quality and good intrinsically in them. I love architecture with the joinery and cladding naked, the methods of construction apparent. I love materials like wood, metal, and concrete that are themselves the material beauty. Paint is never necessary in my mind. When you think this way anyway, other things seem to fall into place- for instance with the absence of paint, you have no volitile organic compunds off-gassing in the baby’s bedroom. The simplest road is usually best. And its true that the best things in life are free. Luckily also, we are at a time when most of the things we could ever want or need are very accessible, and even for free. Books and music are very available at the library, and I intend to spend more time there again. I can easily spend hours there, and for free. We can work out, go for a walk, make a light dinner, hang out with friends, listen to music- shopping is not the answer. I wish I had never bought girl-mag subscriptions for my sister. I know my girlfriends and I were influenced by those at a young age, and not in a good way, but obviously, it is worse now. The only way I can teach her now is by my example that things are not where its at.
All the things I want I can either figure out how to get for free, cheap, or just decide to forego. I’m at the point where I’d rather have a bike or a kayak than a car. I guess quality is just finding the right combination of things that make you truly happy. Finding the right place to live that suits your needs is crucial. I think people don’t explore enough on their own. I have always wanted to visit Seattle, but whenever I mentioned it, people always say, probably some who have never even been there, “yeah, well it always rains there, who would live there?” Now that I have lived half a year in Juneau, with the worst weather they have had in easily over 15 years, I’m glad to know rain won’t stop me if I want to live somewhere. Juneau, no. But someplace like this, oh yeah. I would live here in Bainbridge Island, or over in the city in a heartbeat. People there are really cool, and the whole feel is so artsy, cultural, and yet laid back. I know we caught the weather in its prime today, but the shops I saw here and the culture is exactly what I’m looking for. Rain may not stop me, but we’ll see about snow as we make our way south, and then east to Denver for the winter. I want to give Joel his chance to be back near his friends and family, and since I’m feeling ready to explore anywhere new, now is the time. Joel is good to me, and if I am utterly miserable somewhere, I know he will help me do what it takes to fix things. Plus, we won’t be there forever.