Posts tagged seattle
My friend Rachel posted this, and it was too perfect to not repost. For your reading enjoyment:
How many times can you see a bald eagle before it stops being exciting? I only ask because I’m on the verge of losing count but I still get excited when I see them.
When I moved to Washington I’d never seen a bald eagle in the wild before. It was so exciting the first time: a real, live, bald eagle, just sitting there as if it was as normal as a seagull.
So I’ve been keeping track of them, and here’s all of the eagles I’ve seen:
- Kelly and I were using the ferries across the Puget sound for the first time, and it was even one of the first times that we’d been down to the waterfront after we moved here. After we got our car loaded onto the ferry we started exploring the boat. When we got to the top when we saw a crowd of people at one end of the deck. We went to see what they were looking at, and there it was: a big bald eagle, sitting on a catwalk overlooking the water. It was too far away to be sure, but it looked as almost as big as a human sitting on that railing. I don’t know if the crowd was made up of newbies like us or if it’s just awesome every time.
- There’s a floating bridge from the east side across Lake Washington into the city that we drive across a lot. On the Seattle-side of the bridge there’s a series of bays and smaller lakes and marshlands that are all interconnected and go back to the lake. One time we were heading into the city and driving through this marshy bay area by the university when Kelly saw the eagle fly and then land on a street light. She pointed it out to me just in time for me to turn and see the eagle sitting on the lamp post.
- Over the summer our friend Matt came to visit. When we driving into the city for some good old-fashioned tourism, we saw an eagle sitting on a platform in the bay, right by where we had seen it the second time. Kelly and I both got really excited, and we chastised Matt for not getting as excited as us.
- Since I’ve started my new job I take the bus across the floating bridge every day. One day as we were driving past the bay I realized that we’d seen bald eagles in the exact same place twice before. So I looked up from my book and sure enough, there was a bald eagle sitting on that same platform again! (It turns out the platform is a sculpture. Who knew? I thought it served some navigational purpose or something.)
- Another trip into the city, driving with Kelly past the same bay. This time the eagle wasn’t sitting perched, but it was flying overhead. I was so excited this time that I kept repeating over and over: “A bald eagle flying! We just saw an eagle flying!”
- A few weeks ago my brother Troy came to visit. As we were driving into the city we told him to look out for the place where we always see the bald eagles. It wasn’t in vain: we saw a bald eagle sitting on the same old platform. Troy did a slightly better job at being excited: he said, “oh, wow.”
- Just the next day when Kelly and I were driving home from the airport after dropping Troy off, we saw an bald eagle flying overhead chasing a seagull! It was really exciting. It looked like the eagle was gaining on the gull, but I was driving and couldn’t see the rest of the action. Kelly said that the eagle got close and had it’s talons extended, but that it missed the mark and the gull got away. Too bad for the eagle, but lucky day for the seagull. Also, Kelly pointed out that “eagle” and “seagull” rhyme. That’s pretty exciting by itself.
- Yesterday! On a light post at the same place by the bay driving into the city!
That’s all of them, but I’m sure there will continue to be more sightings. It’s getting hard to keep track of them since we’ve seen them in the same place several times. (Kelly’s even seen them there a few more times than me.) So, I just thought I’d share the excitement before I lost count. Of course, it’s probably a good thing that I write this post now so I can save you from a much longer post in event that I don’t ever stop counting!
It was just barely a year ago that Kelly and I moved out of our apartment in Salt Lake. We were using a POD to move so that we wouldn’t have to drive a U-Haul truck across the Cascade mountains in the middle of the winter (which ended up being a great choice: it was hard enough getting the little Honda over those mountains while they were covered in thick snow). We’d already fixed the schedule for the POD, so we had to scramble (and go without sleep) to get everything packed in time, but we made it (barely).
We spent our last night in our basement-sweet-basement the same way that we would spend our first nights in our apartment here in Seattle: on a blow up mattress in an otherwise empty apartment.
The next day we cleaned the apartment and packed up the car to go. We had some things that we weren’t taking with us, either extra boxes that we needed to recycle or things that we needed to donate. We had other errands to run before we drove out of town (both moving and Christmas preparations) so we split up to get it all done.
Among the things that we were donating was a pair of pillows. I don’t know if we thought that the DI wouldn’t take them or if we had some other reasons, but for some reason we thought that it would be better to give the pillows to the homeless instead. That was on my errand route, along with the recycling (which I would have been just as happy to throw away, but you know Kelly). So I hunted around for a recycle bin big enough to hold cardboard boxes, and then headed over to the homeless shelter. (I had contemplated offering the boxes to the homeless, too, but it just seemed a little too much like rubbing it in, so I stuck with the pillows.)
It was late by the time I got to the shelter, and the street was empty (unlike other times when I’d been running past there and the street was full of homeless people). At first I was a little confused about which building it was; for some reason I’d always thought that it was on the opposite side of the road. It didn’t help that the sign said something generic, like “community center”. There was another sign on the building, though, saying that I could drive around back with the donations, honk, and someone would come out to get them. But there were hours for the donation drop-off, and I was there too late. I felt stupid, and I almost turned around and drove away.
(Have you ever sat outside of a business and been indecisive about whether you should go inside or not? Maybe you’re thinking of getting some gift and you’re not sure if it’s right, or maybe you’re at some office building without an appointment and you’re afraid of being laughed to scorn for just walking in uninvited. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s a familiar feeling.)
As I was sitting there getting in and out of my car, a homeless man walked by. He had been looking in a garbage can down the street and was now moving on to another one. As he walked past, he asked me if I knew what time it was. I told him, and he walked on. There wasn’t anything more to the exchange than that, but for some reason that did it for me.
I walked up to the main doors with my pillows, still feeling stupid, convinced that they’d just tell me that I should have read the sign outside and known to come during donation hours. The doors were locked, but the lady at the front desk saw me and buzzed me in.
Inside the air smelled like urine. It wasn’t the sadly subtle kind of smell that a nursing home has. It reeked of it. It was almost over-powering.
“Front desk” might be the wrong word for where the lady that had let me in was sitting. It was just a folding table (like from a cultural hall event) with a clipboard where she had been letting people sign in. She asked what I was there for, and I sheepishly told her I had these pillows and thought someone might like them. She didn’t seem phased at all, and just sent me down the hall to (what I think was) the nurses’ station to give them the pillows.
When I got to the end of the hallway I saw the scene that makes me still think of this event. There were probably 40 people there, lying on the floor, fully clothed and covered in blankets. I don’t know what the rooms looked like, but I assume they were full if all of these people were out here on the hallway floor.
I gave the man at the nurses’ station the pillows. He offered a receipt for tax purposes, which obviously I didn’t need for my measly donation. And that was it. No further exchange. I left and drove away.
It was such a small moment in my life. The whole thing probably only lasted 10 minutes. It’s funny how sometimes small moments have big memories.
I work in downtown Seattle these days, and I’m constantly surrounded by homeless people. I don’t know if there is more homelessness here than in other cities, but it’s definitely ever-present. I see these people every day, and they’re always on my mind.
I think one of the reasons that it’s so heart-breaking for me is that it seems like a problem without a solution. I don’t know how to help these people. So many of them are riddled with mental or physical disease, that I don’t feel like the few bucks that I could spare for any individual could possibly help them dig themselves out of their hole, even if they are in the right mind enough to use it wisely.
I wish I knew of some reliable charitable organization, something that seemed like it was actually making a difference. Maybe there’s something that at least consistently relieves the suffering of these people, even if making a difference in solving the problem itself is an impossible task. Maybe you have a suggestion of what I should do to help.
So, because I don’t know what else to do, and because I’m constantly worried about them, I’m going to write on my blog about it. I had started writing some stories in this post to explain how I feel, but it quickly started getting too long to read. So instead I’ve taken out the stories and I’ll post them separately over the next few days.