We stood on the pier and watched how the clouds hugged the mountains in the distance. The grey sky hung low, giving the impression that the sun had disappeared and gone somewhere far away to shine on smiling faces. I felt gloomy. The grey bay looked cold, the seagulls looked tired, the dark green of the firs stood in silent witness, and I wanted to leave. I leaned over the side of the damp stone wall and stared at the horizon knowing somewhere the sunset must be having a brilliant show that I couldn’t see. I looked over at my friend, Jen, who also looked somewhat forlorn. Day 7 of our West Coast trip had landed us on the edge of Seattle with nothing but clouds to greet us. I shivered, feeling autumn prematurely and thinking of how warm a sun ripened apple, fresh off a tree, would feel compared to this.

There were a flock of birds twisting around the sky above our heads, their choreography simple and beautiful as they swooped in and out of formation. I watched them for a while, letting my mind wander.  I thought of how this trip may be the last one I take as a single unit, thinking to the plans I have in the future with my boyfriend. I thought of the friends I have back home I haven’t seen in a while and wondered how they were. I thought of my family and how I was here without them. To my left a ferris wheel circled, its slow and steady movement a metaphor for a clock that reminded me of how much older I felt despite only turning 26 a few days ago.

Then, as if Jesus Christ stood up suddenly from the earth, the clouds ripped open over the ridge of the mountain peaks and a crack of the brightest orange-pink I had ever seen shot toward me. The entire horizon erupted into a golden pink, the like I had never seen before. The grays and blues of the bay were transformed and I was standing at what looked like the entrance to Candy Land. There were big blobs of whipped cream clouds, frothy dollops of ice cream covered with strawberry glaze, mounds of chocolate, sticks of peppermint, and a healthy dose of melted caramel. I jumped up and down and pointed. “Look! Look at the sun!” Excitedly, I raised my phone up to my eyes to capture the wonder (because who would believe I found the entrance to Candy Land?) and my phone squinted its eyes and said it couldn’t take a photo.

I looked over at Jen who was having the same argument with her camera. She looked at me and sighed.  “There’s no way we can capture that on these.” She said. I nodded. I smiled, the sun changing the face of the entire world. We both looked out again at the blazing spectacle and stood there until the pinks began to turn purple. I looked up at the birds again, still busily swooping around. The air felt wet and chilly again. I hugged my arms for warmth.

“Lets go back to the Hotel.” I suggested, looking back at Jen. She nodded and we turned to leave the waterfront. I wish I knew a better way to capture Seattle, I thought as we climbed up a flight of steps to street level. On the way back to hotel, I looked at the people on the street and then realized they all must have had a small glimpse of the beauty we saw to use as succor when the nights are cold, damp and gray. Huh, cool. I thought. But, I can’t wait to get back to a place that has more sun than that.

September 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm by Natalie Allen