On Hula Hoops and Riding the Bus
I went to my first Meetup on Thursday night: Hula hooping with Seattle Slipper Camp. It was a hard time getting there, but definitely worth it. Before this, I had only successfully hooped once, at a drum circle on some beach in Buffalo with my mom soon before I left for Seattle. I admire those girls who hoop at shows and festivals and have been wanting to pick it up for a while.
When I finally arrived at the Meetup and started hooping (with the biggest and easiest hoop the organizer brought), I could hoop but couldn’t deviate from my standard rotation. Meanwhile, Daniela, the organizer, was doing a two-step routine to pick the hoop up off the ground and start hooping without even using her hands!
Besides practicing these tricks and many others, Daniela walked around giving people advice and encouraging us all to try new things. An hour later, I could move the hoop up and down on my body, increase or decrease its speed, and turn in a circle while still hooping! My abs hurt, my hips felt bruised, and I felt exhausted and happy.
The Meetup was at Gas Works Park, which “contains remnants of the sole remaining coal gasification plant in the US.” It has structures from the original coal plant that have been painted and converted into a play area of sorts. We hooped in a covered area overlooking the Seattle skyline. It was dark and I couldn’t see much of the area around me, but these pictures that I didn’t take make me want to go back and explore very soon.
I left work in a good mood on Thursday afternoon. Mike had gotten there early and it was easy for me to take off. I exited the restaurant into crisp fall air and blue skies. When I turned the corner, a group of guys saw me and yelled, “Hey, that’s the pizza girl!” I waved and kept walking.
Walking on the path back to my house, I saw through the window that the dining room table was gone. Not surprising, since we’re out of the house by the end of the month, but still sad. I loved having my breakfast on that table, reading Jezebel and checking my email with roasted veggies and instant coffee.
When I was just almost fully inside the house, Ben came bounding down the stairs in his underwear. “Are you ready to go?”
I just got home! I wanted to snuggle! I was so stunned that I couldn’t speak. I knew he was talking about driving me to hooping, but I wasn’t even sure yet if I was going. I didn’t want to be pushed out the door when I was so excited to be home and with him.
I headed upstairs feeling upset and saw that I had missed a call from work. With a sinking feeling, I called back. It turns out I was scheduled to come back at 5:30 and work for a few hours. I didn’t know what to do. I could hear the head chef saying in the background, “It’s okay if she has plans, we’ll probably be fine,” but I didn’t want to not show up for work. I said I’d be there and hung up the phone.
And that’s when I broke down. I was working a double the next day, I had just had a good day at work, and I was glad it was over! After the way things went down at the last restaurant where I worked, I am working hard on setting boundaries. I checked the schedule work had emailed me, and no, I was not scheduled to come back and work.
This whole time I was sobbing hysterically lying prostrate on the bed, with Ben hovering nervously nearby trying to comfort me. He convinced me to go to hooping instead of work, and I called back to let them know. It was fine. I set off planning my hour-plus bus trip to Gas Works Park. It’s hard to get around in a new city without a smartphone! I transcribed two paragraphs from Google Maps into my iPod calendar, pulled on a pair of yoga pants, then sprinted out the door wishing I had time to go to the bathroom. In Ithaca or in Seattle, whenever I take the bus I always find myself running.
I got to the bus stop and waited… and waited… and waited. Another woman showed up. I realized I forgot my chapstick in my jeans pocket. The number 2 bus went by in the other direction. I figured it would turn around in Madrona Park and head back my way; did I have time to run home and go to the bathroom? I went for it–another sprint (downhill this time), to the bathroom, grabbed my chapstick, and was back out my door, down my street, up the hill, is that woman still there waiting? And then the bus showed up, in time for me to run across the street and hop on board.
During my short ride, I nervously checked and re-checked my plans of where to get off. At my stop, the woman I had been waiting with in Madrona got off too. She turned left at the corner so I turned right and tried to find my next bus. I walked around until I was back waiting with that same woman. I had a few minutes until the bus came, so I ducked into the restaurant on the corner, was almost blown over by how good it smelled, and grabbed a water. The glittery girls behind the counter commiserated with me over not having time to buy food, and then I was gone.
On the bus, I munched on the Twix bar I had stashed in my purse until I got off at the University of Washington campus. I wondered if anyone thought I was a student. Then, trying to figure out the directions I had written myself (did I mean turn right facing toward the bus or away from the bus?) I saw my next bus driving away. I decided to go for it. Luckily, it got stopped at a few red lights, which gave me time to catch up, and the next stop was only a few blocks away with a line waiting. I sprinted over and queued up. The bus was so packed I had to stand right behind the driver. I kept on checking my iPod for directions and could hardly hear the stops being announced over the speaker.
I was looking for 40th and Meridian. My ears perked when I heard 40th, but we were on Stone. The bus then turned off of 40 and started heading down to 38. I panicked and got off, walked back up to 40, and asked a couple of people filling up their cars at the gas station on the corner how I could get to Gas Works Park. “Back down this street, all the way, all the way, I mean all the way down, then turn left.” Guess I shouldn’t have gotten off the bus. Good thing I like walking.
Highlight: I sneezed after walking past a man smoking on the sidewalk and he said “sorry” to me. Not knowing how to reply, I kept walking. When I was half a block away, he realized himself and yelled “bless you!”
After walking all the way down the road, I turned to the left as instructed and started walking down what seemed to me a dark alley along the water. It was like a back parking lot for boats. Five or 10 minutes down this stretch, I became convinced I was going the wrong way and walked back until I saw a small convenience store. I went inside to ask for directions. Back outside, back down the dark alley. I crossed the street when the sidewalk disappeared. The road was crumbling down to nothingness. The edges of everything blurred to darkness. I kept walking straight.
And then–a sign. Gas Works Park. I crossed the street into more darkness and tried to rely on my hearing to find my way. Voices in a parking lot. A man walking a dog and then–two women carrying hula hoops! I ran over. A man at a bonfire was yelling: “Over there! Up the stairs!” He was giving directions but the women thought he was harassing them and ignored him. We headed up, navigated the red and yellow structures, and were greeted by half a dozen hoopers, at least 30 hoops, and a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline across Lake Union. We have arrived.