“Come on; I told you we needed to leave at ten and it’s almost ten-thirty.” I am telling the truth if you think of lying as saying something factually incorrect. I did tell the teen we needed to leave at ten and it is almost ten thirty. If you extend lying to be withholding information you know to be pertinent, then I am lying. I am withholding the fact that I figured if we needed to leave at ten thirty I’d better shoot for ten.

Actually I figured we could make it if we left at eleven but that would be one of those departures where you’re coming through security while the flight is boarding. I like to have a little cushion in case I have to wait for a train. Today it goes like clockwork, from the Muni to the Bart to the AirBart to the Oakland Airport for an Alaska Airlines flight. There is time for a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll before boarding starts.

I am sitting in one of those front row seats, looking out at the runways, so that I can plug the iPod into a wall outlet for charging. The Alaska Airlines jet has just pulled up to discharge passengers, and the jetway extends outward toward the door. My mind is idling along, imagining a science fiction world full of illusion, like on the ocean floor, where what appears to be a rock or a plant is a cleverly disguised predator. I watch as the unsuspecting flight attendants open the door and the monster, having already put his lips to the porthole, sucks everybody out into the belly of the beast.

When everybody has disembarked I am not surprised at all to find the jetway pretending to be innocuous. Clever bastard.

The McDonnell Douglas jet has engines that purr like sewing machines, and the only even slightly clunky sound is that of the landing gear folding the wheels back into the wheel wells. I resist the temptation to imagine that they are talons, and at any moment we might dive straight down and catch a fish. Imagination can entertain one with positive or negative projections of the intellect.

I remember James Thurber’s writing about losing his glasses. He woke up and found the dog chewing on them, and had to go through an entire day without them. He described all the fantastic things he saw. I wonder if that was the origin of Mr. Magoo? I try to recall the name of the book; it’s been too many years ago that I read him. It could have been "The Thurber Carnival," or, "Let Your Mind Alone." I recall having those two in my library when I was young.

On arrival in Seattle the teen is on the cell, making arrangements to meet with a friend. She has no intention of spending her time with the olds. She needs to go to a pharmacy for some things, because we just didn’t bother trying to figure out the regulations about what we could and couldn’t bring on the airplane. The woman at the front desk at the hotel gives us directions to a nearby Safeway. “I want to go by myself,” she says, and exits, stage left.

Five minutes later she calls. “Where did she say it was?” I realize she didn’t even listen to the directions.

“You wonder why I worry about her being alone in the city?” I ask Linda.

“She has to learn her way around. Don’t worry. Be happy.”

It’s been years since I was in Seattle, and I realize I love the city. I don’t care if it’s raining, the rain is part of the charm. There’s good coffee everywhere, and the produce in the public market is an art show. We dine on wild salmon and pinot grigio, and watch the sky darken as a storm moves in.

In the background there are dreams. They were years ago, when the teen was younger. I would dream about going to Seattle, for some reason, and in the dreams she was too young; she wasn't ready. It was something in the future. Such dreams always disturb me a bit, because I don’t know what they are about. Why is Seattle important in her life?

I don’t know the answer to that. I just know that this city was featured in dreams, and the dreams were about my needing to pay attention to her development, and that Seattle was an important milestone. And here we are, the rain falling on the water, and the child off on her own, carrying a new paisley umbrella Linda found for her. "She loves paisley," she said when she saw it.

Some things are news to me.

The sky darkens and fades to black. The lights come up and the theater of night comes alive in the city.

Posted: Sat - November 4, 2006 at 06:24 PM