This time, mine.
In honor of Mother’s Day, my March 29th Real Change column:
Back on the 8
Every time I hear Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” I am transported to the house where I grew up and to the joy of dancing in the living room with my father on a Saturday afternoon. “The Men All Pause” by Klymaxx reminds me of my older sister, Carey, gorgeous and powerful and singing along with the record player in our childhood bedroom. Anything by Black Sheep takes me back to my college days, when my girlfriend, Monique, and I would beg our dorm-mates for a ride to the current “it” club and dance ourselves dizzy to “This or That.”
Buses, too, have associations for me. The 2 was the route I took to my elementary school. On one ride, a schoolmate got “beat up” (read: slapped and pushed a few times until the bus driver intervened) by some older girls. To this day, I cannot ride a 2 without remembering that incident. I was on the 545 the first time I saw my fiancé, and I will always associate it with the thrill of our first few months together, when the endless, inch-by-inch crawl across the lake seemed far too short. The 194, the “airport bus,” reminds me of all of my best adventures, including (and especially) my trip to Paris last May.
Then there’s the 8, which takes me from my house in the Central District to 15th Ave. on Capitol Hill. I love 15th — August Wilson vibes at Victrola, Frida Kahlo coasters at Casita, scrambles and coffee cake at Coastal Kitchen — and have long associated the 8 with this marvelous street.
In January of 2004, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in as many years, and my reasons for traveling to 15th Ave. changed. I rode the 8 to Group Health for surgeries, chemo appointments, CT scans, and emergency-room visits. My once-favored route came to symbolize sickness, sadness, and fear. After the cancer went into remission last October, I avoided that bus, along with everything else that reminded me of my mother’s illness.
Last week, I received devastating news: my mother’s cancer has returned. This time, it is not curable. Friday morning, I rode the 8 to meet her for the first of what will undoubtedly be many terrifying and unpleasant hospital visits. But the memories that came to me during that ride were not of toxic drugs, or blood clots, or chances of survival. They were of the Vogue magazines and heated blankets in the infusion center, the chalky “banana” barium shakes in radiology, and the beautiful view from the fifth floor of the main building. They were of endless waits in urgent care — one of which was rewarded by a visit from the cutest emergency-room doctor ever to walk the halls of a hospital — and of diva outfits temporarily replaced by hospital gowns.
The 8 reminds me of laughter. It reminds me of my mother.
Today we took the Water Taxi over to my parents’ side of Elliott Bay, and the whole darn family (me, Adam, both brothers, one brother’s girlfriend, Mom, and Dad)–minus my sister, who lives in California–had brunch at Salty’s.
It’s been a weekend of boats, mothers, and celebrations.