Settling in has involved me trying a few more vegetarian foods and going to a few more diverse places than I used to. Living in England, my family would make meals that would consist of fried chips and a fried meat typically shaped in a circular form, be it a hamburger, chickenburger, turkeyburger. I feel I've taken a few steps from that by eating tofurkey hot dogs, soy chicken nuggets and eating at a Vietnamese restaurant over inside these first 48 hours. I've also been picking up more scrapes and scratches, from being a klutz with luggage and with cats using my hand as a springboard, digging claws in deep before bouncing away.
As an almost seamless segue, we go from cats to The Cat Box, a bar in Tacoma which showed the spirit of the average civilian. It's Thursday night, and the place has two lures - 50 cent pints of beer, and an opportunity for anyone to go up on the stage and jam. All the instruments were there, and a good ten or fifteen people went up on that stage during the night, to perform for a generally uninterested audience. The highlight of this evening was a fellow called Joe Sandy, who could play a guitar extremely well (and so had a level of arrogance, stealing the show whenever he played onstage) and also looked like a mixture between The Attorney from Fear and Loathing, and Barney from The Vanishing. He also produces artwork in his spare time, and it was a wonderful technique of artwork I've not seen before, involving glass and shimmering oils and tin foil and goodness knows what else. It confused me but amazed me also. See, this is what I mean about the inspiring energy. Anywhere else in the US and I expect this guy would be a drunkard people would ignore. In Washington, he's a drunkard with a guitar and a camper van full of bizarre artwork. He's the type that is truly appreciated here.
Other notable moments from the night included one person saying I looked like Jimmy Paige, another person saying I looked like Charles Manson (this guy would later offer me cocaine as an apology), one guy gyrating himself against everyone in the bar whilst shouting 'WOO!', By the end of the night he'd gotten into this, and even Joe Sandy and I were allowed to 'enjoy' one of his dances. He'd gotten pretty drunk, and told us of this moments before gyrating so firmly against one girl, that the stool she was sitting on fell over, with her barely getting up in time. We also encountered a true hippy with beads and rainbow tie-dyed shirt, who asked us to come back soon to hear him play blues, and one person buying a pitcher of beer (it fits about 4 pints in there) and drinking out of it with a straw.
This is the life I'm going to get used to. For now I simply felt like the expensive one, given my sodas were costing twice the amount the beers were. Also, near the end of the night, I felt I was swaying and slurring to fit in more with everyone else who was hammered. I didn't intend to fake being drunk, but as everyone else was swaying around, I just started to get into the (literal) swing of things.
Before that, Mount Rainier. Jamie and I walked down a steep hill and Mount Rainier, the 14,000 feet high snow-capped volcano was there, in our faces. It was an incredible sight. Imagine when you're quite high up in terms of altitude, and can see the horizon blur into darkness? Imagine that behind that faint blur of darkness, there's a massive mountain sticking out, enveloping the landscape. That's Mount Rainier. It was so much more than that, but these are the only words I can use to describe it, and I know they're nowhere near good enough.
Tacoma's quite hilly, and so I've been getting a bit of a workout from the walking around. It's strange, but I'm used to walking on flat paths, that hills sap a lot of energy out of me. I need to get myself a little fitter and used to this, because some of the inclines in this area are so steep, it almost looks like you need hiking books and an icepick to traverse up them. We've also come to Tacoma in the middle of a heatwave - it's been in the 90s for the last two days, and more 90+ weather is expected for the immediate future. This weather somehow feels comfortable after enduring the 101 in New Jersey, with humidity that soaked you throughout the day. A dry heat and a humid heat are very different things, and until you endure both, you can't understand how hot a day can get. Apparently, some spots in Seattle were going overboard - a McDonald's in Seattle recorded the temperature at 121F, but if the average temperature for around now is in the 70s, a bit of exaggeration can't hurt anyone.
Today we travelled into Seattle itself and saw a wonderful clear blue sky, which gave us a perfect view of the Space Needle. We hunted for a pirate at McDonald's but came up short, yet Jamie and I were fairly happy with the second prize of a guy with a biker t-shirt and a fabulous mohawk wandering around the store, the tip of his hair hitting the cardboard cutouts usually strewn from the ceilings of certain McD's. I got to play my first game of pool whilst officially living here with Jamie and Autumn, and I have been told we need to get a pool table so everyone can practice more. I'd like a pool table in my house, I must admit. We also found out that Schnitzel is the best cat because he is the least aggressive - sadly, he lets both of the other cats lash out at him. I also believe I should be writing more often - this post was constructed with keywords, written on postcard paper with a crappy tourist pen (I paid $2.25 for a glorified biro. As a pen aficionado I was peeved...) and it helped me remember and enjoy the last few days. This is probably why I want to write more, because I can go outside and walk a few minutes away, down to the local park, and enjoy the beautiful sight of Mount Rainier in the distance as I scribble away whatever comes into my head. Rainier is definitely a muse to Jamie; I didn't imagine I'd get so captivated myself, though I'm very glad I did.
Tomorrow might involve pirates, a trip to an island, and buying a painting from Joe Sandy featuring eyes and a view of looking up to see trees growing upwards forever. I can't say I've been doing anything like this in my entire life. I can't explain how much I look forwards to each day right now, because there's not a moment of monotony in it.