Private Rituals

The Dawg and I were strolling through Cal Anderson Park a few days ago in the rapidly shrinking twilight, when I happened to look to my left. I saw a man standing up, looking at the failing sunlight, and then he laid down his mat on the grass, knelt, and performed sundown prayers. His yellow taxi was parked behind him as he worshipped. Dawg and I walked as quietly as we could on the gravel path so as not to disturb.

A few days later, the Dawg and I stood at the corner of Denny and Broadway, waiting to cross to Cal Andersen again, when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I glanced up. The post office across the street was taking down their flag. The man let the line slack slowly, catching the flag it as it descended.

One of the most amazing things about the Hill–and what makes it feel so European, to me–is the amount of daily life that’s lived out on the street. Cafes spill onto the sidewalk, coffee stands have walk-up windows. People fight, laugh, and make out. Some days the Hill neighborhood feels like a living, breathing thing, in which hundreds of tales in the naked city spin together to create one ongoing graphic novel of sex, drugs, love, hate, dog walks, fights, food, tears, make-outs, dirty copies of the The Stranger and The Weekly, fashion shows, hugs, and violence–you can almost feel the thump, thump, thump, of the collective rhythm. Belltown is the liver, and say, Downtown is the brain, but Capitol Hill is surely the heartbeat of the Emerald City.

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