I take walks from work to clear my head, get some light, take a break from the computer. Outside, the scene is the same but still, I forage. I’m looking for ideas, listening. Though the scene is about the same each day, it’s always changing if you look carefully.
There are the two guys who are living in their Econoline van, and have been doing so since the summer. The windows are fogged over, and often you can just see the neck of an acoustic guitar, in the passenger’s seat. They were there today, smoking, talking. I see one of them in the Starbucks store across the street sometimes, on a laptop, with an old paper cup he’s using for cheap refills.
Down the road from them, there’s a new structure: wooden skids stacked around a tent, with blankets and thick pieces of foam. It’s behind a tree, on a small patch of land where no one can park, flanked by the shipyard’s fence on the west side. The skids and blankets are there to keep the wind out, and keep people like me from looking in. No one appears to be there; they forage by day.
It’s unusually cold in Seattle now, and I know from my times backpacking in the winter that the overnight is the worst part of the trip. With all my high-end gear, I still have a hard time keeping warm.
I’ve thought about asking if I could interview them to hear more about their lives and report back, here. But I’m conflicted: it feels like I’m taking advantage of their situation, for the sheer story-value. And I’m self-conscious about what they’ll think of me, in my dress-shirt, with my well-trimmed beard.
I gestured “hi” to the guy in the driver’s seat. He rolled down the window, wiped the hair out of his face, smiled, and said hello.
Hey, I’ve got an old sleeping bag at home you could have, if you need one.
Oh, that’s alright, we’ve got plenty of sleeping bags. Thanks anyway!
Heading back to the office, at the top of the road, the parking garage for the Starbucks headquarters sticks out like the bow of a battleship, like a ship that’s run ashore.
At the bottom of the skyline, in the cracks of the foreground, they’ll be there again tomorrow.