Departures: Rake of the Northwest / Seattle '96: Part 1

Rude Awakening

It was Saturday morning, June 8 1996, 6:37am. I knew what time it was because I was staring dully at my clock. I was awake and staring at the clock because the alarm was going off. I was in hell because in the last two nights, I'd had a total of eight hours sleep. Soon I would be flying to Seattle with my high school chums. I didn't want to be this tired with my chums. They are fun folk and I try to be awake when with them.

The early hour wasn't a problem. It's 6:38am as I write this, but I have eight hours of sleep under my belt. I've already had a productive morning. I've got a load of laundry started. I've dealt with my estimated taxes. I've demonstrated that I can function before 7am. Assuming I've had plenty of sleep. I'd known I'd want to be alert Saturday morning, so why hadn't I slept more?

I've read that the average American moves once every eight years. I move more often than that.

First of all, my flat was a mess. Jimmy, Rob, and I had just moved in the previous weekend, and we still hadn't sorted out our stuff. The living room and kitchen were piled high with furniture and boxes and bicycles and crap. The kitchen was unusable. The living room looked like a tornado had hit. Free time was not for relaxation; I instead spent my time moving furniture and unpacking. But in the days leading up to the trip, I had even more distractions.

Flashback: Thursday


Early Thursday night, I logged on to the MPlayer Gameway, an internet service devoted to multi-player games. I was a beta tester for this service and spent a lot of time in chat rooms helping out newbies and trying to break things. Piaw, a friend of mine, was also logged on, so we chatted for a while. Well, we chatted until midnight. Another person had joined in the conversation. At midnight, Piaw logged off to go to bed. I figured I would do the same at 12:30. But I didn't. This other person had these long anecdotes about his childhood that were funny and scary. They were funny because they were funny. They were scary because he would pop out with mentions childhood beatings at his father's hands--only to say "just kidding" on the next line. I couldn't tell if I was dealing with someone with a strange sense of humor or someone who'd been abused and was trying to feel me out on the subject. So I didn't exactly want to gruffly say, "I gotta go to bed now." In retrospect that might have been the right thing to do. Around 3am, there had been a half-hour stretch without any mention of abuse. The fellow seemed cheery. I said I was going to bed. Okay. Good night. I woke up at 7am the next morning. Don't you hate it when your body gets used to waking up at a certain hour?

Flashback: Friday


Friday was going to be my one chance to see Bryan Clair for the next few months. I've known Bryan since high school; we shared a house in college; now he was a math grad student in Chicago. Unfortunately, the week of his summer visit coincided with my trip to Seattle--I would miss his bachelor party that weekend. Anyhow, I ditched work early Friday afternoon to hang out with him. We walked over to my new flat. Bryan was impressed when he saw the kitchen, filled as it was with a bookcase, bicycle, and futon frame. We talked about computers and people. We headed over to San Francisco to meet up with other people and see "The Rock," a movie in which Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage stage a guerilla raid on some terrorists who have holed up on Alcatraz. It was okay. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I'd been awake.

After the movie, we walked through North Beach in search of dinner. It was after midnight so not many places were open--we were headed to Basta Pasta. A drunk fellow with a woman on his arm stumbled up and hailed the group. "Did De La Hoya win?" he asked. "We don't know," Dave said. Dave told the rest of us that De La Hoya was a boxer. This stumbling fellow would not be so easily put off: "Did De La Hoya win?" We still didn't know, and said so. Bryan added, "I don't know, but we just saw Sean Connery kick the shit out of Alcatraz." The stumbling fellow stopped in his tracks and laughed and left us alone after that.

Dinner took a while. It took a while for Bryan to drive me back. When I got back it was 2:30am. There was a message on the answering machine. It was Arlene, one of the high school chums I was going to Seattle with. Her message said that the travelers would gather on my doorstep at 7am. I had been afraid the message would say something like that. I would have taken a shower, but Rob (one of my roommates) was in the shower. So I went to bed.

Saturday was going to be fun.

Saturday: Travel


So at 6:37am Saturday morning, I really didn't want to get out of bed. When you wake up and you're so tired and you know you've got a full day ahead of you--this is when you know you've tried to cram a little bit too much into your weekend. I took a shower, sort of. I didn't want to shampoo my hair because I didn't want to deal with an airport when I had wet hair. And there wasn't any soap left. Rob's showers tend to be long and hot enough to take ordinary bar soap beyond the liquification stage. So I rinsed off. I tried using shampoo as soap, but I don't think it worked very well.

I tried to shave. I just wasn't up to it. You know how some people have boundary problems--they can't tell where someone else's personal space begins? I couldn't really tell where my personal face was. I'd try to shave a swath and the razor wouldn't actually touch my face. Or it would impact my face while moving in the wrong direction--basically, I was waving my hand around, occasionally punching myself in the jaw while carrying a safety razor. If it had been a straight razor, I might not be telling you this now.

I managed to pack some things and forgot to pack others. In fact, I forgot to pack a lot of things. Did I mention I was tired?


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