I arrived Thursday evening, and that was a quiet one. Kirsten was making dinner, and we had a pleasant time eating, drinking wine, talking. We spent a lot of time talking about relationships -- she's just come out of a long-term one, and that's been difficult. It's also interesting getting her perspective on Kevin; they were friends before he and I met, though they had something of a falling out several years ago and haven't been close for a while. She's a little more conservative than most of my friends, but open-minded at the same time. I find her perspective valuable.
Friday I went in to downtown Seattle with her (she's temporarily living on Mercer Island, until she finds a house to buy), and worked in the Borders in her building during the day. We met up for lunch at a mall food court - okay Thai food -- but mostly I spent the day starting to draft a story and then finishing Dubliners for class. I thought I'd have to have the story done for today, which would have been hard, but a classmate called me and asked if we could switch weeks because she'll be out of town later in the month. That was great, since I didn't have to get any real work done the rest of the weekend.
I decided to go through what I'd written of Riddhi's story and put the punctuation in. Harder than I expected, and I'm still not sure what the real effect is of what Joyce did, without the punctuation. I suspect I may have to actually read all of Ulysses to find out -- though maybe I'll talk to Kev before making the attempt; it's one of his favorite books. Anyway, I'm not sure what I think of this story so far, but I'm going to try to finish a draft on Wednesday, I think. If I manage it, I'll send it out Wednesday night and you can tell me what you think. I'm definitely feeling a bit wobbly about it at this stage.
We had drinks with her colleagues after work at a nice place called the Art Bar; pear cider on tap! Oh, there are times when I really know I live in the wrong city. We had three pitchers among five of us, and I was pretty tipsy afterwards. We walked around for a while and ended up getting dinner at a restaurant called Dragonfish; pretty tasty, though out of my price range. Good thing she was paying!
I think we just went home and chatted after that in the evening. Don't quite remember, actually. I think that was tiredness, not cider. Saturday we had a very slow and leisurely morning, then went into the city and had tea with one of my Clarion teachers, Nicola Griffith, and her partner Kelly. That was really nice, and I think next time I'm in town we'll try to invite them to come have dinner with us. Then we drove south for a while to visit a friend of Kirsten's, Marianne (note different spelling and don't get us confused, please) -- she lives in a lovely house on the water. There's water everywhere.
Seattle is really beautiful, you know. I kept being struck by the beauty of the changing leaves, the surprising expanses of water. It's a city of bridges, and it made me a little homesick for the Bay Area. I know Salt Lake is beautiful too, but my heart just doesn't thump to its beauty, except for the mountains at sunrise and sunset. The rest of the time, it's just...sort of pretty, I guess. I was meant for more watery climes...
We came home and quickly cooked curry; John and Debby, friends of Jed's who I met a few years ago, came and ate with us. I find it really interesting talking with them -- John is a topologist; a few years further along than Kevin, and Debby is a poet, teaching composition. Some surprisingly strong parallels. I think Debby might be very happy in my program, actually, but John has just gotten a tenure-track job at Univ. of Washington, and she considers hersef lucky to have gotten a tenure-track job at the nearby community college. It's interesting talking to people who have made different choices...or choices I might make myself, later. We'll see.
A very pleasant evening, though. We had a lazy morning the next day; Kirsten made popovers, because I wasn't sure I'd ever had them. They were delicious, and she says all the things people say about making perfect popovers (you must start them in a hot oven, or a cold oven, or...) are nonsense -- that the only key is that you must have fresh eggs, milk, etc. We ate them with leftover chicken. Mmm...
Then we spent the day puttering around the city. An extra hour because of the time change gave us time to go to Elliot Bay Books (where I found a new Tamora Pierce, and other treasures), Lark in the Morning (where I bought myself my early Christmas present, a real wooden recorder with lovely tone), and Toys in Babeland (I'm afraid you'll have to guess what I may or may not have bought there :-).
One of the nicest parts of yesterday was having lunch at Sisters. In some sense, it wasn't all that pleasant -- my panini was good, but Kirsten's wasn't so much, and it was rather cold in the sunny upstairs balcony where we ate. But I have such lovely memories of the day during Clarion where Alex and I skipped class to celebrate our birthdays together; we wandered around in the Pike Street Market, had lunch at Sisters, spent a few hours talking about life and love and writing... I appreciated having the chance to relive those memories. Before heading home we drove up Capital Hill, and I showed Kirsten the dorm where I lived during Clarion, Campion Hall. I was getting tired, so we didn't try to hunt up all the little places where I spent time during Clarion, but it was still pleasantly, vaguely reminiscent.
Yesterday evening was...a little odd, to tell the truth. Kirstie and I were hanging out, after renting and watching a movie over Thai takeout (I made her rent An Ideal Husband, and as I expected, she liked it :-). We started talking about Kev again (a frequent subject of conversation), and ended up calling him. Kirsten started teasing him about something, on my behalf, and then as time went by, their conversation got more serious. I was sort of dozing on the couch while they talked, half listening to her half of the conversation. I think it was the first real conversation they've had in a very long time -- I hope that it's a start to their becoming closer friends again. I think it would be good for both of them. Fingers crossed.
I only slept a few hours last night, so I'm more than a bit groggy now, sitting on the plane riding over stark snow-drenched mountains and valleys of white clouds. But I feel good too; I got lots and lots of cuddling in while visiting, and it helped; I feel less lonely than I have in a while. Kirstie is a little worried, I think, that I'm addicted to touch, to physical contact; she thinks it would be healthier to get along without it. I don't know if I agree with her -- sometimes I think this society trains us all to go through life in a starvation of touch mode, and pretend that it's okay, that that's the way it's supposed to be, except with possibly your spouse and kids. But that just seems wrong to me; we need touch, the way we need to talk to others, and while we can and should be able to get along without, I don't think that's the healthiest option. What do you think?
In any case, very glad I went. I should put the Visor away and perhaps nap a little now, I think; I need to finish Lydia Davis's Break It Down, a fair bit of post-co reading, two short stories to be read and two response pieces to be written between noon and six today, so unless I'm feeling quite horribly ill, I'm going to try not to nap this afternoon. It'll be good to be in my apartment again, to feed my fish and water my plants -- but it was also very good to get away.