Have you ever begun something blindfolded?

So you know how things go. You are flowing by with studies, work, friendships, relationships when something new gets introduced to your routine. It starts as an off beat recommendation, and whilst you’re not doing anything else that’s specifically central or significant in your life, you join in on the flow of this new thing in life.

Then weeks go by and despite hesitations because of other well established patterns in your life, you find yourself making more space for this new thing. Then you need to sense check, so you pull away, dismiss it, and there it goes it pops up again seeking your attention.

So you start thinking, what to do. Time invested means previous patterns are being challenged, smoked out, and you’re still unsure if it’s a fluke or will stick around for a while. And then more time goes by and it is still there. Sometimes it feels annoying, tiring, unbalanced, but you realise like with most things settling into a new job, relationship, friendship, hobby is an ongoing process of exploration.

And then the penny drops; your commitment to keep exploring is the juice of life, and as long as you don’t get stuck in a tunnel vision, the scheme of things will keep on evolving and merging with who you’ve become.

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Seattle, chief Seattle

So I will not start from the beginning, why should I, after all, I will start from the point writing this blog post, became urgent. And that wasn’t until I got inspired.
So you know how much I love Camden Town, right? I suppose in many ways it’s the alternativeness I have come to love for decades, even if it is being polished gradually, the edginess is still here.
So what’s up Seattle?
Up University Way and I got blown away. Now this is a quiet Camden, clothes’ exchanges galore, vintage shops with vintage clothes you can actually wear i.e. check out Red Light Vintage http://www.redlightvintage.com/, Korean food that smells beyond tasting good, unintrusive cafes like Cafe Solstice https://www.cafesolsticeseattle.com/ and a second-hand multi-lingo book shop check out Magus Books https://www.magusbooksseattle.com/, all packed on and off a high street where people don’t need to prove they are cool – they kind of are and don’t know it. I loved the dress down punk 90s understated fashion on the street.
Elaborative discussions on how the homeless are better looked after in Seattle than in Portland are complimentary. 90’s vibes. A time before all that uber-conservative shit in politics took off. Where Blur and Bjork are cool to mix with all sorts and cafes don’t mind shitloads of unpretentious laptops.
Now rewind a few days.
The airport; you land in Seattle, you be sure to listen to grunge and rock on the airport speakers. Telling what the city is made off. Even the light rail is called ‘sound’.
Then off to Highline, you could call it a disgruntled neighborhood on the margins, one that will certainly change, because the people may be poorer than average, but have tolerance and are friendly. For Londoners, think of Hackney before the money moved in. In Highline, money is not here yet but I think it won’t show in the same ugly British ways, because the money in the US goes to more affluent areas, whereas money into poorer areas in Seattle means it came from poorer people yet. So you get the picture.
Next off; Gasworks Park, or rewind a few blocks up the hill behind down Sunnyside Avenue North. Probably one of the most beautiful areas in Seattle. Streets manicured pretty green and friendly unpretentious, just the houses are bigger on well thought designed picturesque bliss, but no grandeur here either please, just simply gorgeous. So back down the hill to the Gasworks park and by the Lake Union waterfront – oh my days. My waterways days chucked into the bin, deep deep into the trash bin. The chaos of sup paddleboarding, rowing, kayaking, commercial traffic, houseboats, sailing boats, and water airplanes all using the same water was like watching carnival for the first time. All it felt like, was kind of Greek chaos, only with the confidence. It was fun to watch – put a big smile on my face and gave me another good reason to add to the reasons why I am in this part of the world: it doesn’t make much sense, but it works fine.
A little later, into Fremont, oh my days you have to go, it is so cool and pretty, like an understated really green lightly academic bohemian neighborhood that reminds me of somewhere I would have loved to go before.
So yeah, go Pike Street Market, Alki Beach, the Space Needle (if you must), Westlake Shopping, check out the Fremont Troll and the gum wall (I didn’t – couldn’t bear the thought), look out the wheel from the seafront and maybe jump on the ferry to Bremerton for more really cool views. Pop in at the University of Washington grounds – huge trees bigger spaces to feel academically inspired ;-p and if you are a Harry Potter fan the Library Suzzalo and Allen Libraries is the kind of grandeur that Oxbridge would love to have (I thought my School of Oriental and African Studies university library was big haha). Out of the library look out to the incredible view of the snow-capped Mount Rainier. Whatever you do though, if you are my sort of gang, go up University Way, go down Sunnyside Avenue.

 

Camden, for the soul

On the first chilly day of autumn, I walked out of the house for work to find my brain clicking into Camden cravings.

I’m not talking about the food options, the bashing vibes, the shopping or drinking ports.

That would be too much detail.

I’m talking about the warming feeling I get when I’m here.

In Camden Town, at sunset, on a crisp day. It feels like belonging, it feels like home.

I could climb under the cobble stones and sleep there for the night.

And wake up to crawl back up from beneath them, to see Camden in sunrise.

Getting to attention, dating under the spotlight

My week of complexities

One day last summer, having had a fun packed weekend swiping other people’s Tinder, I decided to put myself out there and started talking to this really cute tall ginger guy. We hit it off really well. Others were popping up trying to cut us, mostly entertaining, however the ginger guy was really clicking with me, not letting off having interesting discussions, sometimes cheeky, other serious, other inquisitive. We kept on chatting til late. And the next day he got in touch again. Same again, long chats for many hours. By the third day, we were messaging and realised he was going away for the weekend so assuming we would have no contact, wished him fun.

We kept texting until and through to the following evening during his flight and as he landed in customs. I fell asleep shortly after and woke up the next morning to messages and a voice message saying how much he is looking forward to meeting me when back. I had just woken up, 6am in UK for rowing training when more voice messages and texts were coming through. I had to arrange catching up after he would wake up, he wanted to continue chatting when I had to go out. He explained he was meeting friends in Minnesota to see Coldplay, and after the gig, there he comes around and there he is again with numerous texts. We spent the weekend chatting between me going to training and him going to bed in a different time zone. Whether he was out at the dinner or the gig, he was in touch soon as he had the chance. Funny me having just come back from a holiday in Cornwall staying in Port Isaac I was streaming Doc Martin and his number kept popping up on my phone interrupting the series. I thought at this rate it would take me months to watch it. Seeing the messages and his interest was really sweet, I started greeting the pic on his number every time it would appear. I even thought this guy will go down as the American in the sleeveless red top that kept popping up in the Port Issac’s Cornish landscape. I would say ‘hello baby’ and then switch off the tv so I could text him avoiding the rest of my neighbours seeing I was chrome casting my texts.

He came back to London, we were hot on it, getting more romantic sharing what we would like to experience together. It was really sweet. But there was one thing I could not understand, why this guy that invests his time in me is not actually asking me out?

I must admit I contemplated shutting the conversation down. He is over cautious I felt, something not quite free flowing as I would have expected at this stage. It’s been nearly a week of texting 24/7, practically having a virtual relationship, why not meet? I probed him if he is shy, he admitted a little, yes. We carried on chatting, romanticizing about the things we would like to do when we would finally meet. The walks, the park, the riverside bar. His last message landed in my mailbox as I had again fallen asleep late for texting til early Wednesday morning. I woke up the next day and his contact details lost from WhatsApp. I must say it took me by surprise and reminded me how exposed and vulnerable we can be sometimes. He didn’t return that evening. A colleague had mentioned dropping a picture online for identification so off I went. Dropped his pics and off they went into Google. At first, I had to squeeze my eyes and take a step back from the screen to have a walk about to regain my focus. An hour later I knew most about the guy, a well known american sport player. The benefits of noone watching NBA in England. I had a fake name for a accomplished athlete. There online, I found a forum amongst other things where a bunch of girls are ripping him to pieces about his dating routines, a few years ago. For a split second, I judged him but then I stopped. This boy is a child of this earth as everyone else and given he is high profile in the US I can understand how it can be difficult meeting someone that is not after his multi million cash or self promotion. Who am I to judge him? Surely I have come across as a dick to people I broke the heart of. His ladies just have an audience and therefore talk. My exes can talk too but who really cares in the end?

I asked myself how would’ve managed now, knowing who he is. I would have definitely made his challenge trice as hard. Call it my insecurity, call it his easy access to women and anything really… I know, money can’t buy love and he is probably putting on a brave face managing weird attention whilst seeking out to be loved. In many ways, don’t we all?

Update 31 August

So he returned and hey ho, off we went onto a daily ping pong of messages. On a standard evening, we spent 3-4 hours together exchanging around 60 text and voice calls. On a light evening, 25 messages, on the understanding I was ‘beat’ from training and although he wanted to chat more, he would let me rest.

More messages kept flowing in the coming days. I can’t wait to meet, missed our chats etc. The magic was in full spin. So here we got to, when are we going to meet? Date, time and place set, checked in with each other the night before, all set. Until the day itself came. Sent a quick ‘how are you getting on’ message, and nothing. I was at work, which would have met him nearby. Nothing. I read on the news the next day he has just been flown back to the US to test train for a well known NBA team. That didn’t work out. Nor we ever spoke again. Who said dating pro athletes was ever fun? A well known rocker’s wife once said basketball players in the US are the worse to entertain the idea of a romantic relationship with. She’d been married to a rock n roller, with all the divorces, flings and dramas to tell her story in perspective.

The guy I was talking to, is now settled back on the southern West Coast sand, doing something else in sport, retired from the NBA. Once, there was a saying

‘your voice gets me to attention’, to the soundtrack of My Hero by the Foo Fighters.

Isn’t fame a gift that never truly gives yet always pays?