I feel rich
After a night out with friends at a disco ball 80’s karaoke party, I felt the urge to retrieve to being alone. It was already close to midnight on Saturday, Lake Union was especially calm as if it was awaiting the grand entrance of the first day of Fall. Wrapped up in a wool jacket, I shot these panoramic pictures of Downtown Seattle from the north side of the lake at Gas Works Park. The lights draped bands and bands of reflections in the water. It’d make a beautiful sari.
After the shooting it was almost 1am. I drove up on Wallingford heading to the QFC on 45th for some toilet paper. I love driving on Wallingford because I get to pass my first apartment in Seattle with mom. On my way out of the QFC, I saw a big black man eating a cup of Ramen noodles sitting at a counter next to a microwave set up by the store entrance. Piled up next to him were four or five chicken TV dinners that were still steaming. He didn’t notice me standing by the door watching him. He ate with such intense focus and pleasure. Had he just gotten off of a long day of work? Why was he eating in a grocery store at 1 in the morning? As I watched, I felt rich, really rich, and it wasn’t out of pity for the man. He made that cup noodle look so yummy which reminded me of the most basic pleasures in life. If you can enjoy a cup of Ramen noodles, a lot of things can make you happy. (I do enjoy good soup noodles but doesn’t mean I will stop being a foodie.)
Exactly 16 years ago, I came to Seattle from China at this time of the year, the end of September. Mom and I used to walk 10 blocks up the hill on Wallingford from our apartment to what used to be the Food Giant, for our weekly grocery using a luggage cart. We didn’t have a car then. Getting a gallon of milk and a gallon of orange juice was the type of luxury that no Chinese had thought of back then. We used to shop at the Salvation Army for clothes. I remember I loved the Garfield night gown I got there for $1, which I proudly owned and wore for the next 5 years. We didn’t feel poor then either because whatever we had was so much better than what China could offer.
I recall such experiences so fondly even though Mom often reminded me of how financially stressed we were. This goes back to a discussion that I had with Clarie a while ago in which we both agreed. The important part of living is not about the amount of money you have. You can make a lot of money and never be happy or content; there is always someone that can make more. Being rich is living richly; having enriching experiences. For me, coming to America 16 years ago was one of the many. Being able to capture beautiful Seattle and sharing it with friends is another.