Linear perspective, a 3D grid converging at a singular point in space. I walk towards this point. Beneath my sneakers, a concrete platform, the color of sand with square grooves, stretches forth (or condenses forth as each square becoming smaller to my eyes.)
To my left, train tracks (pristine, glistening in the sunlight; no rats or garbage in sight.)
To my right, a highway (hushed by a screen of bamboo planted alongside the platform.)
The light rail has yet to arrive and take me from Columbia City to the last stop on the line, the U-District. My commute from work. As I wait, I consider the careful planning of the platform, the interior of the train cars, the chosen routes, the city. Breeze ruffles bamboo and sunlight trickles through foliage, leaving leaves dripping in fluorescent green hues. I turn to my co-worker and muse “I think Seattle is the city I was trying to create in Sims as a kid.”
The city is like any other: full of imperfections (atrocious imperfections, in fact.) Today, though, I choose to focus on its utopic qualities. Or computer simulated qualities. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised to find green revolving diamonds above everyone’s heads.
1) Pedestrians wait for the light at crosswalks when no vehicle is in sight. When I charge forward into an empty lane, I’m on a stage performing solo. 2) No one stands on the light rail unless every seat is taken. When I stand (by choice rather than necessity), I perplex all who behold my strange stature. 3) The proportion of people who enthusiastically ride their bike to and from work (a laborious task, I imagine, involving wardrobe changes, a possible shower at the office, and the balancing of suitcases) is great. 4) An unwavering commitment to composting … exists. I make attempts, I waver.
Miles of murals have come and gone outside my window. They are a joy to look at. Without them, one would have to be particularly imaginative to avoid the bleakness and monotony of an industrial landscape dotted with windowless warehouses and loading zones.
The light rail has traversed, above and below, land and water, arriving at the last stop. Emerging from an unknown depth, I exit the station and continue en route via an elevated platform of white concrete that swoops in long curves above the highway, sidewalks, and (partially) buildings. A water plane slowly passes from cloud to cloud far above my head. I think to myself, Le Corbusier would approve; vertical segregation of modes of transportation were integral to his City of Tomorrow plans that never came.
The platform slopes down into the campus of the University of Washington and I exit onto the Burke-Gillman trail: a two-tone pavement for cyclist and pedestrians, respectively. Landscape architects, I suppose, had a say in the décor; occasionally I snag apples and blackberries nestled in lush brush as I stroll home. Cars, parallel to the trail, pass unseen and unheard due to elevation and vegetation (Le Corbusier, solemnly and approvingly, nods again.)
I arrive home to my dorm, adjacent to the trail. Unwind, unpack, eat. Wind back up again as I remember a world outside my window. It takes me a couple of minutes to snag an infamous bike reliant on phone apps. Beep beep click and an invisible dollar disappears from an intangible cloud. I use the bike to continue forward on the trail. Six minutes to my destination. If the journey is part of the destination, then I arrive at an incredibly (unnecessarily?) high bridge, a forest of sail masts, a compound of fearless houseboats, and, at last, to something brushed under a rug. The rug being grass. The something being a former gasification plant. Its current name is Gas Works Park. I pass an artist and easel, kids flying kites, and a corgi play-date as I head towards a hill that somehow resembles this and this at the same time. Atop the hill, the view over the water is imperfectly symmetrical (now Wes Anderson is nodding in my mind.) Directly across the water, the furthest point I can see, are mountains of steel—downtown Seattle. On both sides, stretching around the bowl of water like toddler arms around an over-sized beach ball are neighborhoods nestled in trees and hills. The occasional roof and wall peep out, but only partially. The arms don’t reach the park, we regard each other from opposite shores of the waterway.
After observing this, I lie down on a towel and read naked (the title of a book by David Sedaris.) I’m momentarily distracted by someone playing a ukulele. I continue reading. I’m momentarily distracted by a child chasing a pink flamingo. The flamingo is plastic and has four wheels, its movement at the whim of an unseen controller. I continue reading. I’m momentarily distracted by a game of frisbee. I continue reading.
So many people congregate with their own agendas. From the water planes above we must look like the sailboats I watch in the water, steadily heading in individual directions at equal speeds– minding our own business, together.
The sun sets and I depart. Beep beep click and I’m off again to unwind, unpack, sleep.