There’s nothing particularly interesting about this photo. In fact you could argue, successfully I might add, that it’s a pretty boring one taken in poor conditions of a street corner that could be in pretty much any Westernised 1st world country on the planet. But it’s not just any street corner, it wouldn’t make a great deal of sense for me to be writing about a random street corner really, although, given the right frame of mind I’m sure I could make something up.
No, this street corner is one that nearly four years ago I went to get into a cab at around midnight and turned around to have a fist put into the same time/space position that my head occupied. This of course is against the laws of physics and rather than meld together the fist burst through my glasses, shattered them causing a laceration through my left eyelid and across the lens of my, fracturing the same eye’s orbital socket and breaking my nose until the fist was no longer in threat of disrupting the time continuum and need fear the wrath of Dr. Who and other time-lords. There was some further punching and kicking and a lot of blood but you get where I’m going with it and the likelihood is that you’ve heard versions of this story from myself before so lets not repeat ourselves shall we.
Now, four years gone, I find myself returning to the scene of the crime like some badly written macabre Hollywood thief whilst visiting Seattle once more. I knew when I booked this trip that I’d be venturing to the intersection of 1st Ave & Yesler Way, I couldn’t not go! Whether that be born out of sheer curiosity or perhaps cathartic self-healing I honestly didn’t know I just felt compelled.
On Saturday morning, the third day of my four day visit, I decided it was time. It was a beautiful day, warm, cloud-free and I had no appointments at the convention until later that day so there was time to kill. It turned out that the intersection was remarkably close to the hotel I was staying, a pure coincidence as I had to hunt through old paperwork from the hospital and ambulance service to figure out which intersection it actually was that morning! Three city blocks down, two to the left and there I would be.
Walking down the hill, Starbucks in hand – yes vomit now but when in Rome, I didn’t feel anything, I was numb to the whole exercise to the point I was beginning to think it frivolous. Last November I’d won the three year legal battle against my travel insurer TID and their medical cohorts Mondial Assistance to finally pay the lovely $US25k + legal fees I’d incurred from my week’s stay and coma care and that had truly allowed me to breath for the first time since it had all happened. Now, a city block away, I questioned what else I was possibly hoping to achieve.
Rounding the apex of a dog legged 1st Ave the small park came into distinctive view. It was my reference point. That night it had all happened it was the only thing my bloodied vision had been able to focus and hold on to. The look of hundreds of Halloween revellers passing through gardened archways to stare and scream at what unfurled directly opposite, over the road.
The park’s intersectional neighbours drew a complete blank, they may very well have been there four years ago they may not have, but today they were Starbucks, a small cafe and finally a toy store called “Magic Mouse Toys”, which sat on the corner I was attacked, decorated by two street bins, one of which for recycling that I remembered grasping at when I fell to the ground and was now crossing the road to inspect more closely.
I knew I’d stood in this exact position years before, I knew it to be where the horror of the past four years had been birthed but even at this point it felt numbly distant. Then, as if God himself had been sharing a joke with Freud the siren started. My head rose and stared Northwards down Yesler Way towards the drowning tones of an emergency vehicle. The noise from the siren continued to grow in volume until I spotted the distinctive boxed shape belonging to an American ambulance snaking its way through Saturday morning traffic towards me. I stopped breathing. The trees in the park wobbled in my vision as tears streamed down my face and distorted the light they reflected into my eyes. I could hear the people yelling and screaming from four years ago like I’d been sucked back in time like on some CSI/NCIS/Law & Order type TV show. The ambulance’s engine grew louder as its sirens pierced my thoughts and then… it drove straight by. It floored it through the green light of the intersection and continued on its way but it had done it’s job, for me anyway.
I retreated to the very same stone steps my assailants had launched their cowardly attack from and composed myself. The vision of yesterday’s world washed away and the odd looks I’d attracted from today’s bystanders were quickly dismissed as they went on with their lives, classifying somewhere between crazy and delusional but not of their concern or danger. I pulled out the notebook I’d been using for notes at convention interviews and began to sketch out the intersection in order to remember it better perhaps? Who knows? It served a purpose if only to allow me to rationalise me sitting on a cold stairway to a padlocked door.
No one else could’ve understood what this place meant to me, nor should they have. It was just so surreal for me to be in such a placid and infinitesimally insignificant place to all the people passing by yet mean so much to me. That said a lot of you reading this know exactly what this place means to me and I’m forever thankful to all of you. You know who you are, you all helped tremendously and I’m blessed with such amazing family and friends. Thank you.
The big question is did it actually *do* anything by going back there and the honest truth is I have no idea. I’m not a shrink, I still don’t really know why I wanted to visit it in the first place, but I did and I have and it’s done. I hear a lot of people talking about closure, generally when it comes to relationships mind you, and I think that’s what this was for me, perhaps my whole US trip was to a point? Regardless, the chapter has been undeniably closed.