This morning we met some friends at Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is, for you out-of-towners, also the EMP and the Science Center and the Children's Museum and a whole bunch of theaters and a really not so impressive amusement park). I left around 9:45 in the morning and it took me about fifteen minutes - from the time I left my house to when I beautifully parallel parked the car - to get there. And we were late anyway, because we had to walk from the parking spot to the museum and Molly's average speed is something like Tortoise, but hey, fifteen minutes. Not bad.
TONIGHT. Tonight we had to pick up Phillip at his office and then meet his parents and some of their friends for dinner downtown. To get to Phillip's office I ideally take the exact same route as I did this morning, with an earlier turn off and a few more city blocks. It should take fifteen minutes-ish. But I did, of course, leave at 5pm, the height of rush hour, but that's WHY I left at 5. Because dinner was at 6.
I did not drive up to Phillip's office until 5:55. FIVE FIFTY FIVE. With kids who hadn't eaten dinner to boot. What was I thinking?! It was gory out, all rainy and dark and I knew I was in for it thirty seconds after leaving the house, which was when I encountered my first stretch of traffic. I usually get at LEAST a few more red lights out of the way before I hit a backup. Not tonight.
Usually it's the kiss of pleasant children death if Jack happens to fall asleep in the car in the late afternoon, which of course he promptly did. But at least I didn't have to listen to his whining, so that was a win. And Molly kept listing all things she wanted to eat - yogurt, grapes, toast - until I realized she was getting all these ideas from the Wiggles song we were listening to ("Fruit salad! Mashed potatoes!") so I turned that off and handed her my phone. Insta-happy.
But still. Nearly an hour. While I waited in a left hand turn lane to take The Back Way, I thought about all the possible ways a North Seattleite can drive downtown. You must take a bridge. Montlake, University, Ship Canal, Fremont, Ballard... am I missing any? I thought about how I knew exactly how to get to all of those bridges, how I figured out which would be the best one for me to take. I thought about how large and intimidating and confusing this city was when I moved here, and how NOT intimidating it is now. Even this morning, when I missed the freeway ramp to go home because I was stuck in the wrong lane, I just powered up a few hills and found The REALLY Back Way. I am totally from here.
I sat in the merge lane to get on the bridge and I thought about how everyone complains about the traffic, but because I'm a stay at home mom and most of the time the places I want to go are against commuter traffic, it hardly affects me. I couldn't remember the last time I was really stuck in something like this. So I also had time to think about how often I sit with the laptop examining floor plans of giant houses in Bothell and Woodinville and Kirkland. Ginormous brand new houses that I'd LOVE to live in, that are cheaper than the ancient tiny house for sale on my busy street. I look at those floor plans and imagine where the furniture would go, and what we could do with the money we might save.
But tonight I felt sort of sad. Because, and I don't know if this will really make sense - I KNEW WHERE TO GO. I knew exactly what I was going to do to bypass the traffic. It was a route I'd used a million times, but not really since we moved out of our first apartment in Lake City. It was so familiar, the whole AREA was just so familiar. And I just felt like... but I'm from here. I know this place. I should stay here.
Honestly, I make it sound like Bothell is the far side of the moon or something. OBVS IT IS NOT. I am just feeling stubborn tonight. Like yes we ARE going to find a house we love near-ish our church and the school and at a price that won't make us faint. RIGHT?
Also, you have to give me a break, I sat in traffic FOR AN HOUR all the while freaking out about being late for FIL's Milestone Birthday Dinner. GAH. (Except - Cheung Family Trivia - the birthday milestone was actually three years ago. Technically tonight we celebrated his AMERICAN age. Oh made up dates on official immigration documents! You make for lovely parties!)
P.S. Molly is in her bedroom singing at the top of her lungs (at 9:22 pm): "LO MAI GAI! LO MAI GAI! LO MAI GAI!" Somewhere, a certain Chinese man is driving home from his milestone birthday dinner and wondering why his heart is growing all warm and fuzzy.