Monday night after he husband made dinner and her baby entertained us, Amy and I went to bellydance class–my first since February, and, on another level, my first since I left. I had told Sharon that I was coming but it was a surprise for everyone else and I felt like a rockstar for a little while there, with many beautiful ladies coming up to me and hugging and kissing me and telling me they were so glad I was back. The class format has changed a lot (thanks, Sylvia, for pounding ATS Egyptian in my head for over a year because that totally came in handy) and I think I frowned a lot during zils but there I was, back again, in the familiar classroom in Phinney Ridge, letting my body remember, smiling to see the women who so easily have let me back in.
The first night in the Blue House (yes, that Blue House) was pretty rough for various reasons…actually just rolling into BALLARD! was weird, because now the Scandinavian Dennys is gone (can you believe it?) and they’ve closed Sunset Bowl (I know!) and there are all these huge condos everywhere. Everything was different and everything was the same; I was ridiculously happy to see my books on my bookshelves but of course Ian and Katie live in the cloud room now so I’m staying in a different room, still living out of my bags. I remembered how to get to Trader Joe’s but forgot about the one-way street so had to go the long way around. Cupcake Royale (and I should know, since I’ve gone there four times in five days) has expanded their seating options and changed their layout but they still have my beloved chocolate-lavenders.
I’ve been pretty social since I got here–walks around Green Lake and lunches and dinners and a trip to Golden Gardens. Those conversations are the same but different too, because of course two years have passed for everyone, not just me, and it’s not just Monday night bellydance that has changed. Babies have been born, for one thing, and houses have been decorated and tattoos have been inked and relationships have grown.. I feel like I say the same eight things all the time (“I don’t know how long I’m going to be here” and “He’s in Italy at the moment and I am not sure when we’re going to see each other again but I hope it’s soon” and “Girl it is SO GOOD to see you!” and “Well, it’s not like I work so I can meet for lunch whenever you want.”) but everyone else’s news is…new.
I don’t know what I expected to happen to the friendships here. I wasn’t sure if people would forget me–I mean, I think I thought people would, like, recognize me from somewhere in their past and maybe recall that I’d been away for a while. I wasn’t sure, though, if I’d be able to pick up relationships again, that everyone would remember each other’s history (“Wait, so what’s your kid’s name again?”) and the private jokes and the things we’ve liked to do together in the past. I wondered if I would be able to find space while still keeping at least one toe out, keeping a large part of my heart turned to Wellington.
So far it’s working, at least as far as Seattle goes. So far I still love everyone. So far it’s becoming clearer and clearer that leaving here again (when? how?) will be just as bad as it was the first time.