The other day, I met a new friend in Ballard, where I spent the first seven years of my life. Every time I visit the area, I am filled with wistful nostalgia and the thought, “How would I have turned out differently if I’d grown up here instead of an unincorporated small town in a desert?” This time, I got a taste of where I might have spent a great deal of time and money in my college years, assuming I stayed close to home for college. But it was quite the adventure that got me there, due to my inability to follow directions.
I knew right from the start that I’d be meeting my new friend, Farris, in Ballard, because that’s where he lives and he wanted to show me around. But somewhere between my getting on the 255 and getting off in downtown Seattle to find a third bus, I must have gotten confused. I looked up the coffee shop at which we’d arranged to meet, Bauhaus Coffee and Books, and clicked on the first one, completely ignoring the address. The fact that it didnt take me that long to get there should have clued me in, but I think I was too distracted by the fact that there was a coffee spiller AND a guy with a lit cigarette in my 10-minute bus ride. I just wanted to get off. It was VERY lucky that I didn’t get any coffee on my boots, and I hate sticky soles more than anything. So when I got off on Capitol Hill and found Bauhaus across the street, all I could do was breathe the fresh air and rejoice. I ordered an iced hazelnut latte because I always forget that I don’t even like iced hazelnut lattes until I’ve taken like four sips. There was an upstairs, which I loved, so I sat up there, and realized why “Books” was in the name. It didn’t look like a typical bookshop. Only one wall had any books on it, and they were all hardbound, most in solid, earthy colors, like they were all 100 years old. I did find a copy of Divergent, which looked wildly out of place. The wall facing the street was all windows, and anyone could go out and sit on the balcony overlooking Pine Street. Everyone sitting upstairs looked my age and were dressed like hipsters, but real hipsters who aren’t trying too hard because they really are that creative in their fashion sense. Several had laptops, all Apple of course. A few people sat in pairs and laughed and lounged about like they came there everyday. I felt very at home. They looked like people who felt very at home with themselves and it made me very happy. Then I realized that though Farris had texted me and said he had just ordered and I had already told him I was upstairs, I didn’t see him anywhere. He called me. I realized I was at the wrong location. Obviously.
We laughed about it and agreed to meet in the middle, in the U-District. I was there in like 15 minutes. He was standing on the corner in front of American Apparel, tall with dreadlocks and a beard, reminding me of a North African Santa Claus. Turns out he’s a hugger, which I love. It was already dark out, but you could hardly tell, as all the businesses were in full swing and the sidewalks were full of students. Farris remarked how the U-DIstrict was such a fun place to hang out because college kids are still so full of hope about the future, and they always have the energy for an adventure. Unless it’s finals week. I thought he put that perfectly. We walked up and down University Way, too busy talking to find a place to hang out. He asked if I liked pool, which I do, so we found a sports bar decked out in Husky colors. I got a cider and he got a beer, and we played two games. The first time, I nearly beat him. I’ve realized that I always say I’m bad at pool, but then I suprise myself. I lose more often than win, but I still have my moments. Just as we we finished the second game, another guy who was starting a game with his friends asked if I was any good and I just shrugged. He challanged me, but I said we might be heading out. As we left, Farris said the guy was definitely flirting with me. I Laughed and said, “I know; I, too, have been to college.”
After stopping to use the bathroom in a very dead bar up the street, we casually played ping-pong and I surprised myself with how long I could volley. We talked and talked about things like God, relationships, dating, karaoke songs, and dancing. He had been hinting multiple times that we should really go to Ballard, so we finally did, and that’s when we made it to Wingmasters. It reminded me of Wing Central, but cozier. There’s a juke box, two pool tables, and an awesome Wednesday night special: 50 cent wings and a bucket of 5 beers for $10. We were starving, by this point, so when I suggested ANY FOOD, he suggested wings and I jumped at that. He seemed to know most of the staff, and they were nice enough to plug in his phone behind the bar to charge it for him. On the bus ride there, I told him about how I used to live in a high school building in the very neighborhood we were passing, and he told me about how he was born in Liberia and then went to America for school, attending international school in Zurich in the summers. The stories he told stirred in me the love of travel that has sat dormant since graduating from college and entering the world of never-ending bills. One day.
After finishing eating, we played two more games of pool, then a third when Kurt joined us. It’s always a shot in the dark getting him to leave the house after getting home from work, but I used my super sweet voice. I knew he’d really like Farris too. They got along swell, and we finally left at almost 11 even though Farris had to get up at 5 the next morning. Well, he chooses to, to get a head start on the day and have tons of time to get things done. I found this admirable, but not something I could do, at least not while I’m working evening shift at Fred Meyer. That’s not a lot of sleep. But, as it turns, Farris is a person with a lot of professional connections and rapport among the small business people of Seattle and other parts of the world. Maybe just making friends with him will be a step toward my ideal writing/editing career. And if not, that’s okay. He’s still super cool, and making new friends is always great. Cheers, and I hope I’ll be blogging more often now. Until next time…