Two things about me as a kid: I lived in Seattle, and my parents got divorced. Like most divorced kids, I spent every other weekend with my dad. I don’t remember what we did on Saturdays or Sunday mornings, but I know that we had two rotating itineraries for Friday evenings.
In one incarnation of Friday Night with Dad, we stayed downtown. We walked across “The Sky Bridge,” then went deep into the basement of Nordstrom, to the toy department. They had a giant stuffed lion that dwarfed the largest lion in my personal collection of stuffed lion toys. I wanted him desperately, and I was always afraid that one day we would arrive and he would be gone- in the possession of some other unknown child and out of the range of possibilities for me for the rest of my life. He didn’t disappear for a very, very long time and even then he never got a a good home. The clerk said that a kid had ripped him, so he had to be taken off the floor.
The second incarnation of Friday Night with Dad was on Capitol Hill. We started with hot chocolate at an Espresso Bar in an arcade on Broadway. This was decades before Starbucks on every corner; coffee shops, espresso bars, they were all still independent little nooks of Seattle. We always went to the same one. The woman behind the bar was nice and always remembered us, and one day her friend was sitting at the bar, sad because her house (apartment?) burned down. Dad gave her $20 and she accepted gratefully. After hot chocolate, we walked along Broadway and I stopped to try out all the dance instructions that were splashed across the sidewalk in beautiful brass shoe prints. Look at the picture above, then imagine what the waltz, salsa, and all the others might look like. Then imagine a little girl in a scrunchie and leggings, dancing them along the street in the heart of the Grunge Era.
Capitol Hill was not a traditional kids environment. There were bars, homeless people, some adults who yelled- these were all things that were scary to my sheltered little 7 year old self. But I was safe with my dad, and I had hot chocolate and dance. I had a place in this real, adult world. He showed me how to have a place in it.
Friday evenings like these are how you make a kid fall in love with a city. They are also how you create an adult with a thirst for writing love letters to the world.
And coffee. The hot chocolate thing grew in to a coffee thing.
I was made in Seattle, after all.