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 boats.com, 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.