Monthly Archives: November 2014

Scratch That

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I could have been a thousandaire in Detroit.  An extended layover had me pacing down its airport halls, zig-zagging between kiosks to kill time and winding up in front of a lottery ticket vending machine.

Winning money in Detroit seemed cruelly funny to me.  I heard a news story recently – or maybe it was a rumor? – that a house goes for $1 in the most dejected quarters of the city.  Detroit was in a bad way – it was somewhere you just didn’t go. Before I even landed, I assumed that it was my first and last time visiting.  But…what if my numbers matched?  I could own 10,000 houses – or maybe 5 really nice ones.  I could upgrade my flight to first class.  Could I be mayor of Detroit?

I waited until my flight was just about to board and then I scratched.  While everyone else got antsy and gathered up their bags, I dragged a dull penny back and forth across my ticket, brushing away the tiny bits of silver veil that lay between me and fortune.  A matching pair of numbers appeared early on (would I have to stop back on my return flight to collect my riches?)  The line of passengers advanced as I pressed my penny to the last square, scratching even slower this time, prolonging the hope that I just might win.

I bought a losing lottery ticket in Detroit.  I bought a shot glass, too, although I can’t remember the last time I took a shot, let alone at home.  But Detroit is rugged – or at least my notion of it is – and so the Motor City-emblazoned glass seemed fitting.  I imagined a wearied auto worker throwing back a finger of whiskey after stepping off the assembly line. Now we’d drink together in spirit.

I carried the glass in a little bag with my silver-stripped, unlucky ticket as I walked onto the plane.

After all, it wouldn’t have been fair for me to win the lottery in Detroit.  To collect 10 grand in a city I’d regarded with such disdain, so confident I’d never return, without ever setting foot outside the airport.

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Return to the West Coast

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There’s a book called Some Kind of Fairy Tale about a girl who escapes to the land of fairies.  There, everything looks much the same as the English countryside where she lives, but the light is far brighter.  There, she can see every color on the spectrum – shades of blues and greens she never knew existed.  So vivid are her surroundings she must squint to take them all in.

Seattle is no hidden fairy realm.  But early October sunlight rebounded off rising mist from the Puget Sound, suggesting something magical.

On this day, there were no clouds – only white whisps that streaked the sky and mirrored snow-capped mountains.  The rain that one accepts as inevitable was not a fact after all, and moisture came in only on the breeze.  Dry skin – accustomed to thick lotion layered on to guard it from bitter, Northeast wind – inhaled deeply.  The balmy air seeped into pores, smoothing lines and filling in weathered cracks.

From the water, the glassy surface of the Sound seemed to extend for miles, generating sympathy for those early explorers who feared the edge of the Earth.

Houses perched cleverly on the end of Bainbridge Island, a piece of land amidst the Sound.  They were first to claim the small peninsula that over looks the entire span of water, backdropped by the Seattle skyline, Mt. Rainier, and the Cascade Range.

On this luminous day, these houses sat surrounded – nearly engulfed – by city, sea, rock, and sky.  On this luminous day, a fortunate few awoke to see so much of the world all at once.

So vivid were the surroundings, they may have squinted to take them all in.

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