I don’t know the exact moment I laid eyes on her.
Probably as I rounded one of those bends on the I 5. Trying to keep my focus ahead and look but not look.
I do remember my first impression of her; so tall, statuesque, confident, shimmering in her own splendor.
I arrived in Seattle at 10am. Way before check in time at the Fairmont. I was fully prepared to leave my car at the hotel and spend the rest of the morning/early afternoon roaming the city. I had plenty to explore. It was a bright, crisp partly sunny day so made easy for me. Just like upgrading to first class for the flight up. $50 upgrade with no bag fee, to me means a $30 upgrade. Yes please, I’ll take it.
view from my first class window seat
Winding in to the circle drive the valet greets me, tells me where to go park, offers to hold my suitcase until check in and then suggests I try to check in early.
“Never know, they might have your room ready” he suggests with a wink.
I easily find the parking garage one block over but man it’s packed. Every single floor I’m corkscrewing up in to is filled with cars: A, B, C, D, E, F “are they gonna go through the entire alphabet before I find a space on floor Z?” I wonder, getting dizzier by the moment.
On Level L, a man in a uniform appears out of nowhere and flags me down “you’re having trouble finding a space aren’t you?”.
How has he seen me? I wonder hoping I’ve not been picking my nose or shouting obscenities at the overstuffed garage.
I’d already suffered one embarrassing incident that day on the parking lot shuttle en route to the airport at 5am where a lady, deboarding, leans down and says “I don’t think anyone else will tell you but your shirt is inside out”. I whipped it off and changed it right there between Terminal 4 and Terminal 2 on the bus. In front of two strangers. Hey, I announced it first reassuring them I had a camisole on underneath which I did. “I got dressed in the dark” I said as they responded with a courteous nod.
The parking lot attendant directs me to one of two of the most convenient handicapped spots near the elevator “just use this one, we’re kind of full right now. I’ll make a note of it”. Nice. 🙂
I grab my purse, lock up the car and head over to the hotel, following the Valet’s suggestion, just out of curiosity.
The check in area is quaint, gold and elegant “I know I’m here super early but I’m checking in today….”
“Let me see if we have something available now” the young pretty brunette replies.
I guess all the First Class status I’d been enjoying all morning infused me with the nerve to say “I like as high as you can get. I like rooms way up there”.
She smiles and says “I have room 1109 ready right now. We can go ahead and check you in”.
11 is the top floor of the hotel.
“Do you have any bags?” she inquires.
I tell her I’ve left it with the Valet and hand her the slip. She assures me they will send it right up.
Wide eyed, I silk my way through the opulent great hall of the lobby area to the elevator and ride up swiftly to the 11th floor. The top floor.
This hotel smells good. Like gold, like honey, like rich people. I’m pretty sure Oprah’s house smells like this.
I arrive in room 1109 and realize immediately I’m not in steerage anymore. I’m still in First class. This is a freaking SUITE! Two rooms, two TV’s a couch, arm chair, coffee table!
Moments later the bellman arrives with my bag, fetches me a bucket of ice and tells me “you can drink the water right out of the tap here, we have some of the best drinking water in the country”.
I plug in my iphone that’s drained nearly entirely in the plane, make a cup of coffee, a glass of ice water, open the window and sit in my Executive Suite living room breathing in the fresh Seattle air. It’s not even 11:00 am and I’m in heaven.
Now I got this room on Hotwire for less than 50% the going rate. I know because I obsess over these things. I was supposed to get a generic king bed room in the hotel (not saying anything in this hotel is generic mind you). I know about all the levels of rooms because, well, you know, I obsess. So I KNOW I’m in a big upgrade right now. I’m in a freaking Executive Suite! Two rooms, a sitting area and cozy but large bedroom with glass french doors between. A large “getting ready” area outside the bathroom and a large marble tiled bathroom. And a view!
I love robes in a hotel
And I’m actually not even supposed to be in any room for 4 more hours.
The Gods of Seattle are most definitely smiling down on me.
I get a good charge on the phone, hang up some of my clothes, freshen up myself, make sure I’m not sporting any more wardrobe malfunctions, change my shoes to comfy walking booties, finish my liquids and head out in to the cool, fresh, humid downtown Seattle air.
yeah, I’m bundled up, I’m a wimp- layers people, layers!
That’s when I see her again. Yeah, she’s still there.
Proud and tall against that partly cloudy but clearing by the minute sky. How does she manage to gleam like that even under the clouds?
I look then look away. I will deal with her later.
For now, I’ve got a market to explore.
Pike Place Market, another place I’ve researched to death. I have a list of all the places I want to make sure and see as this place is huge, remembering the first stop I want to make is the famous Lowell’s for breakfast.
I find it easily after my senses being blasted out of the stratosphere with the flowers…all those flowers! Color! Everywhere!
Lowell’s is packed but the one secret about solo traveling or at least the first one I’m about to impart is this: always, if there is this option, eat at the bar.
There are so many reasons for this, not the least of which, you can nearly always get a seat quickly. And it’s more social there. You typically meet interesting people sitting at the bar. People, including you, are more approachable. And bartenders are often very cool.
some kind of delicious salmon croquettes I got
In the case of Lowell’s though, in addition to those things, I also got a view. Right out the top floor of the market in this quaint restaurant was the Sound. The beautiful waterfront.
And also, standing there, taunting me, haunting me, teasing me, fascinating me right in my eye line she stands.
My nemesis, the object of my enthrallment and aversion was right there, antagonizing with her steady yet fluid grace, terrifying me. Magnetizing me.
The Grand Dame.
“What a great view” I remark to the couple sitting next to me as I sip on my mimosa made from homemade Washington berry syrup.
It’s just stunning actually. I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this place before. It’s not the ocean exactly but it feels like the ocean. It’s not like rowdy Asbury Park in NJ where we went as kids but it has a ferris wheel.
It’s clean, it’s sophisticated, spacious, colorful, diverse; this place feels like a place I belong.
(to be continued)