Thirty years ago I was a 26 year old who moved to Seattle. It was June. By September I was settled into my apartment and felt very much at home in my new city. I’d also bought my first Melissa Etheridge tape. There is a song on the album called September Dogs. “Just outside my window, I hear the late September dogs. I understand their warnings, I understand their calls…”
The first Autumn winds blew from the sound as I walked home from the market and I knew that I was home.
My apartment was a 400 square foot studio with a murphy bed, hardwood floors, and bare brick walls. It had a small kitchen that was big enough for two people to sit comfortably at a little square table; from that kitchen a peek-a-boo view of the Space Needle to the north. The living room windows looked west; from there you could see West Seattle and Elliot Bay. The apartment building was called The Humphrey and it was in the gritty neighborhood of Belltown. I fell in love with it the moment June the apartment manager showed it to me.
The Humphrey was on the corner of Second Avenue and Blanchard Street on the 200 block. Just a block north was a pool hall, a match book sized coffee shop called Cafe Septieme, and a leftist bookstore directly beside it. Just to the south, Pike’s Place Market. I’d go there for what few groceries I needed. I remember going to the vendors just before closing time and they would sell me fresh flowers at a discount. I always had fresh flowers in my sparsely furnished apartment.
It was in Seattle that I bought my first new furnishings for my apartment. I bought new linens for the Murphy bed the Bon Marche, a double futon that served as a sofa and guest bed, and two director’s chairs with black fabric. The futon was red. As a coffee table I bought a small foot locker from Bergman’s Luggage just a block over on Third Avenue. I still have that locker; it contains my most sentimental belongings. I also had a shelf and desk unit that was actually two black poles that rested against wall. The little electric typewriter that my mom gave me was an essential part of my contact with family and friends. The few books that I did bring with me were also sentimental. A book called “Miami, City of the Future” and a thesaurus that my friend Pauly had given me when I was living in that town.
I crossed First Avenue with my flowers and watched the people as they passed. The light was golden as the wind blew. I have always been partial to September but the September of 1989 particularly beautiful to me. The rains were coming and I was in the city of my dreams. I was on my own, falling in love, and loving being; I had Melissa Etheridge and The Late September Dogs. “Come on let it rain. Let it rain down on me. Let the rain fill my eyes. Let the rain set me free. Let it rain down on me!”