Death makes angels of us all

And gives us wings where we had shoulders smooth as raven's claws.

Ryan and I were flipping and flopping back to the Lifeguard break room, discussing Jim Morrison and The Doors. "Jim was an amazing poet," he remarked with casual authority. I agreed out loud, yet held back the relevant anecdote that came to mind. If only he was right above our heads! At that very moment! My mind's eye looked with a twinkle to the high, vaulted ceiling.

Allow me to explain:

In that break room fifteen minutes earlier, we had been doing the very same thing. I had brought John Densmore's biography to work, and Ryan, an apparently huge fan, had taken notice. After a bit of erudite and "far-out" discussion, my long standing conviction that Ryan is a pothead was all but confirmed (for the record, I'm not) and it was once again time to go back to guarding the lives of some chronically boring swimmers. At least "Riders on the Storm" decided to come on the radio right there and then.

Into this house we're born

Into this world we're thrown

You see, Jim Morrison's poetry had risen again on the crest of a rooftop at 1 AM the day before, beating the sun by a wide summer margin. It had been printed in dark redolent Sharpie ink, gleaming like an oil slick with hidden color. The pair responsible had first huddled at the foot of the building in the shadow of a square brick pillar, sick with dread at the sounds of a mysterious driver circling in to park only 20 feet away. A car door had been opened and then slammed shut like a guillotine. In a shocking silence, no investigative footsteps had followed up the door's sequence. The vehicle of panic, still a sight unseen, departed smoothly five minutes later into the dark as mysteriously as it had come. I didn't relay this to Ryan.

I was proud of myself, but still scared of those sweeping headlights.

I’m not a very good storyteller—except the over-theorized kind about dead people, maybe—but I think this one is interesting enough it’ll turn out alright.

After the nodermeet, a bunch of us visited karma debt and mordel in Eugene, then RoguePoet and I headed north. We stopped in Portland, where he showed me Powell’s and the rose gardens. Then he dropped me off in Seattle to meet my friend Garth.

It took about an hour for things to get surreal. Garth—who was coincidentally Bitriot’s college roommate—asked me to meet him in Ballard so I could pick up a bike. We met a couple of his friends who live there and went out for pho, discussing how to pronounce the word, then followed his friend home. On the way, they talked about how the area has a lot of coffee shops, a lot of bars, too many boutiques, a lot of boats. They wouldn’t be able to afford living here if it weren’t for the boats, one said. I didn’t ask, but I wondered if boat was Seattle slang, perhaps for a squat. It wasn’t.

We walked to a marina, where they pointed out their boats. We hung out in Wes’s; Garth pulled out a bike map of Seattle and started circling places I should visit. Crammed into the cabin was all his stuff: a stereo, a computer, books, including a copy of Peter Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid. This was far from a houseboat; it’s cabin had been designed for rich hobbyists to spend a night in harbor now and then, not for poor punks to live in. I asked Wes how one acquires a boat. He’d seen it there unused and looked it up on, he told me, got in touch with its owner, and paid $34,000 for it. He still has to pay $400ish a month to the marina, but it’s cheaper than an apartment. The motor works, but Wes has only taken it out of the harbor once; the only thing that really makes it a boat is the slight rocking motion one feels as one sits in his bedroom.

On the deck was a bike library. Wes picked out a bike for me: a three-speed cruiser with coaster breaks. It’s ridable, but not a nice bike; I should have asked for something different, but I was dazed enough by the experience of following someone to their boat where they give you a bike to ride while you visit their city that it didn’t really feel comfortable to ask for more.

There followed a late night bike ride home in which Garth and I each carried about forty pounds of the others stuff on our bikes; the metal side rack on my cruiser didn’t quite fit my suitcase. And then sleep, and today biking to Fremont, writing this, and soon heading downtown.

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