When bconn used to come to Minneapolis, I would drag him into my world. I took him to Morris practice, and he'd come out for pizza and beer with the team. I took him to the Eagle, and to bear bar night, and to a folk concert in Bob Walser's basement. Once he came to a shapenote singing at Matt Wells's house. He's eaten dinners that my friends Jim and Denise have cooked. He's come to dinner parties that I have hosted. He's met my best friends. He came to a Border Morris danceout and party one Halloween night. This is Minneapolis as I know it. Is that what people want to see when they visit a city? Steven's world? Well, some do and some don't. But it is absolutely the sort of thing I want to experience most of all when I visit another city: the social structures that define the lives of my friends. It beats a Greyline Tour any day.
Brian returned the favor this past weekend. Or paid me back, I guess you'd say. At the end of each day Brian would meet up with me to show me another piece of his Seattle world. So I was having two vacations: The trip with my parents, and the visit with Brian. I think I'm finally figuring out why I was so exhausted on my return.
On Friday, after the party at susandennis's, Brian and sinnabor took me off to what I gather are two of the three gay bars on Capitol Hill that have become their locals. There is a standard order to a weekend bar crawl in Seattle, in which you work your way down the hill, although we didn't quite follow the sequence. There were many years when I mostly found gay bars unappealing places that seemed ill-suited to my idea of fun, what with their noise and smoke and oppresively cruisy air. But now I am a barfly, and bars are no longer peasoup thick with cigarette smoke, so I'm quite at home in the milieu. We went to the Seattle Eagle, where I met some friends of the Brians and I got caught up on some gossip regarding mutual acquaintances. Then we went to the Cuffs Complex, where more friends of the Brians were hanging around. It was social and it was pleasant and I thought the weather on the outdoor porch was mild and comfortable but everybody else found it cold. Score one for the toughening that two decades in Minnesota has wrought.
I liked that in Seattle there are several bars where I'd be perfectly comfortable and socially happy. I know there's a positive spin one gets when you are from out of town and with local friends, but the bars we went to (I'd been to Bar #3 on a previous visit) were places I could hang out. Score one for Seattle as well.
Saturday evening Brian picked me up at my sister-in-law's on Queen Anne Hill to take me to a party, a going-away party for a couple he knows. Everybody loves Brian, so you get a lot of points when you come as his guest. I described the party to my niece the next night (somewhat unfairly, but not terribly so) as follows: All of the guests were bearded men between Brian's age and my age. At 11pm a bell rang and everyone took off their shirt. Ok, not everybody (certainly not Brian), but it was like a summer Saturday at the Minneapolis Eagle, except in a private home in West Seattle. I of course didn't know anybody at the party, but they all seemed familiar. I was happy for the opportunity to be part of a social world, for the evening.
On Sunday, after my farewell dinner with my family, I walked over to a Tapas bar on Pike Street where Brian treated me to some nice wine. So this was another piece of Seattle: A nice and charming restaurant and wine bar on a Sunday evening, where I caught up a little bit on what Brian (with his new house and new job) is doing. Then Brian got up early the next morning to get me at my hotel and take me to the airport.
I have such a good time when I visit another city. I wonder why.