East of the sun, west of the moon, parking in hyperspace

no parking to the east

Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

My experience in Seattle (I know, wrong city) was mediated heavily by my rental car and parking. First off, there’s the problem of wanting to gawk at Mount Rainier, which I saw two days in a row, off in the distance from every highway. I wonder if freeway accidents correlate with clear days? Second, the directions from my friend to pick him up at work. “Go down Madison, pass the stoplight, pass this little business on the right side that used to be a deli, then the gas station, which of course I ‘ve never been to since I’ve never had a car, then go a little further, up a hill, and I’m really aware of hills since I’m on a bike, and keep going, and then you’ll pass 17th, and then at the corner of…” (etc.) The short version of this was “exit at Madison and then park at 20th and Madison”. The long baroque version laden with hints to virtue had the character of the city, whose streets often don’t go through and whose parking signs postmodern-ish-ly defy logic, time, and space.

No parking to the east, no parking to the west, no parking within 32.6 feet of this sign in any direction, no stopping; but on the very same block, a sensible machine for paying for a parking sticker, which all the other parked cars have on them. Which version of reality to believe?

I felt a virtuous glow of guilt and anxiety as I circled the block a million times, finally parked, and took the bus.

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