Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Running away

Seattle was totally different from San Francisco -- it seemed like most people were actually from Seattle, or from somewhere in the general region. The whole city felt suburban -- even the counterculture kids looked like they bought their clothes at the mall; there was even a counterculture mall with tiny stores that sold things like piercing needles and tattoos and I Can’t Even Think Straight t-shirts. The apartment building where JoAnne lived looked like a suburban cul-de-sac with blue prefab townhome-style apartments arranged around a parking lot. In Seattle, people would get in blowout fights about which café served the best coffee -- I’m not kidding. Even the neighborhood that white people were afraid of felt middle class. People would get dressed up to go to cafés, I mean like they were going to a club, especially goth kids with long layers of black touching the ground, or ravers with baggy jeans and bright-colored piercings, or goth ravers -- these were kids who couldn’t get into most clubs yet, since Seattle was strict about IDs. There were cafés that stayed open until 4 am, and you could hang out all day and night without buying anything -- that’s because Seattle actually had a youth culture. A few times, JoAnne and I went to the Lambert House, the queer youth center, for dinner, and it was kind of astonishing the range of kids there -- 13-year-old drag queens practicing runway; dykes with facial piercings who talked about running away, some of them had already done it and some of them were waiting; kids who would show up with bruises on their faces, covered up with makeup, and talk about all the clothes their parents were going to buy them. Once I saw this butch, clean-cut gay boy burst into tears because his parents were forcing him to join the military-- he already looked like he was in the military, until he started crying. His parents showed up in a big white station wagon and he got in.

We only went to dinner at Lambert House a few times, because the food was disgusting and everyone was shady, but it still made me think about things differently. I decided I would see if I could cook meals at LYRIC, the queer youth center in San Francisco, when I got back -- the meals were what made Lambert House actually feel like a gathering place, not just somewhere for support groups. People could even stay there when they didn’t have anywhere else to go, even though it wasn’t exactly okay. In San Francisco, I wanted the meals to be vegan, of course, and everything would be cooked by youth, for youth, unlike at Lambert House where someone else did the cooking. I guess I was sort of saying that I was a youth, I mean I knew that officially that was the case but I wouldn’t have said it before.

When I went to LYRIC, they told me they didn’t have any pots and pans. I said no problem -- I’ll bring my own. Then they said I needed supervision, they needed someone over 25 or whatever the cut-off for their services was, so I said I’ll find someone. Then they said they needed to get a permit from the city to use their kitchen. And that was the end.

The strangest thing was that in Seattle I actually kind of felt calm -- people had always told me to relax, whenever someone said that I felt like they were telling me to die, right then, just die -- I felt like if I relaxed, there would be some mysterious gooey thing on the sofa and people would look down and say: what’s that? Oh, that used to be me. I thought about staying in Seattle but I didn’t want to run away. At one point Laurie called and told me one of our roommates had decided to move out, I can’t remember exactly who it was because there was one room where someone was always moving out, and Laurie asked what I thought about inviting Garrett to move in -- Garrett was subletting my room while I was gone. I said no way in hell, but do whatever you want. And when I got back, Garrett had moved in -- that’s how Laurie and I were getting along.

No comments: