Picture 41


Walker Percy once wrote that when the same event happens twice, one at one time and the other later on, we can define everything  which has passed in between by whatever differences there are in those two events. There are faces you see, friends of yours, once every blue moon over the developing years. Time collapses in these moments.

Celia and I usually don’t really ever plan to run into each other. It just happens. Seattle is just small enough to allow for these happy intersections, and just big enough for them to seem improbable. I’m wondering where– and who– I’ll be when I next run into her.

This afternoon we’re once again in Rainier Beach, at the layover. She and I are talking about film, the proposed jail and how it’s a terrible idea, and talking in Korean. It all melds together, intercutting threads of conversation flowing ever forward. She feel passionately about the youth jail, and how there are better solutions than the expensive monstrosity proposed to take its place. There’s a protest coming up where, in many languages, people will chant, “no more youth jail.” She’s asking if I know how to say it in Korean.

“Shoot, I don’t know ‘jail.’ We never really said ‘jail’ when I was growing up at our house. I can say the rest of it though. ‘No more youth!'”
“‘No more youth?’ That would kind of defeat the purpose!”
We begin laughing.

In my periphery there’s a figure approaching. He must be late teens, maybe a touch older with those gold teeth, doing his level best to look like Lil’ Wayne. He’s got the large shades with gold-colored plastic rims, a battery of necklaces and other masculine jewelry flailing about, and sagging–but fitted–jeans. That’s the thing nowadays. I give him the upward nod, with a smile.

“Hey guys,” he says politely. “I dont mean to interrupt, you all look like you two handsome young people havin’ you a conversation– no homo to you, and you look lovely, young lady.”
“How’s it goin’?”
“I don’t mean to interrupt, but could I ask either of you guys got a cigarette?”
“No I’m,”
“Aw man I’m sorry,” we’re both saying.
“Oh it’s koo!”
“You’re a gentleman though!” I say.
“My mama raise me tha’ way!”
“She’s awesome! You’re awesome!”
“You guys too!”

The moral of all this being, mothers, you have an impact which holds even when you’re not around. You are part of them, and the kids are looking up to you. Happy Mother’s Day.

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Article Author
Nathan Vass
Nathan Vass

Nathan Vass is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and author by day, and a Metro bus driver by night, where his community-building work has been showcased on TED, NPR, The Seattle Times, KING 5 and landed him a spot on Seattle Magazine’s 2018 list of the 35 Most Influential People in Seattle. He has shown in over forty photography shows is also the director of nine films, six of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. His book, The Lines That Make Us, is a Seattle bestseller and 2019 WA State Book Awards finalist.