Friday, December 5, 2014

Little Pier and Mistaken Identies

     This summer I was in California for a week visiting my family. I spent one night sleeping across the street from a pier. I could hear the fog horns bellowing across the water and through the windows. At one point they infiltrated my dreams but I can't remember how. Maybe they were disguised as an alarm in a dream where I had to escape a burning house. Or maybe they were the sound of a doorbell being continually rung by a ghost. 
   Piers are lonely places, and even though this tiny pier had several people on it, it still felt dismal and abandoned. It was a gray place. The water was gray and the sky was gray and the birds that swooped down from the sky were gray. The water lapped around the pier in a calming swishing sound while the fishermen slouched in bored anticipation of a catch. 
  I walked to the pier with my family. We stood at the end, huddled near each other. We watched the birds and the boats and talked about people we use to know. 

  Last week, it snowed for the first time this season. It started early in the morning, but I was awake because I had to get to work. I walked to my bus stop as a flurry of snow flakes swirled around me. By the time I got to my stop, I had snow covering my jacket and the top of my head. Once I was on the warm and buzzing bus, I watched the snow fluttering from the sky. Snow is a big deal in Seattle. We don't get it enough to be tired of it. It is exciting!
  By the afternoon, the sun was back. But not the temperature. It remained below freezing for the rest of the day and on and on for several days afterward. After work, I waited for my bus. The street seemed extra quiet and cold. Across the street, a couple waited at the bus stop going the opposite direction. They called to me and waved. I couldn't tell if I knew them or not. They had hoods on their heads, and scarves bundled around their faces. So I jovially waved back. This is when they said something about "Sally," and I realized they were strangers and that they thought I was someone else. They thought I was Sally. They started walking across the street toward me, and they were almost fully across when they realized I was not Sally. "Oh." The woman said with disappointment. They turned around and walked back across the street.
   Some one else came to wait at the bus stop with me, an older Russian man. He seemed very concerned that I was cold, even though I wasn't. I had two coats on and gloves. He asked me if I spoke Russian. I wish I did, but I don't. I took French in high school, but have forgotten most of it. Except for 'pamplemousse', which means grapefruit and is most people's favorite french word, according to my own anecdotal experience. It is definitely my favorite. It is fun to say and fun to hear. The man at the bus stop then asked me if I was Russian. There are lots of Russian things I find very interesting like Anna Karenina and mysterious stories about Rasputin. But it is not the land of my ancestors. He wasn't convinced, he wanted to know if maybe my grandparents were from Russia. When again, I told him no, he seemed disappointed. He said, "Oh, you look like people back home." Then the bus rolled up to us and I jumped aboard. The man from Russia must have been waiting for the other bus, though.
   And this is how two sets of people mistook me for someone else on the same day: Sally and a woman from Russia. 

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