Saturday Morning. A sleepy start to the day. Which I liked to think I earned. Talking to people about cannabis is hard, grueling work. Brunch seems to be a big thing in Seattle, or at least it is among the few friends I have out here. I ventured forth from my attic into Ballard to Hattie’s Hat, a quaint place full of dark wood and looping cat videos. A strange combination.
I like to meander. It’s my preferred method of transportation while I’m here. So far, it has yet to disappoint. Bop Street Records. Named one of the five best record stores in America. Wall to wall records, stretching from the floor to the ceiling, covering every inch of space and containing every genre you could possibly imagine. I spent longer than I care to admit perusing the “Sample” section in which every record details who has sampled what songs for what albums. I had to restrain myself from piling them all up and rolling around in them. My inner record collector was screaming at me to buy everything in sight. They have a funk/soul section? Hip Hop!? I forced my traveling companion to wheel me out of the store before I made some regrettable decisions.
Shortly afterwards, we parted ways and I journeyed to Gasworks park. For the wedding. As I got off the bus and started my mile hike towards the park, a thought crossed my mind: “What the fuck am I doing?” I am going to the wedding of a man I met three days ago in a coffee shop. I know almost no one at this wedding and I am not even entirely sure what the bride’s name is. What force is compelling me to place one foot in front of the other? I could turn around, go home, and enjoy the rest of my afternoon instead of subjecting myself to this potentially cringe-worthy awkward situation.
There were two things that made me keep going. One: I like to think I’m a man of my word. I said I’d be there. I made that verbal contract and I’ll be damned if I reneged on that simply because of my own hesitancy. Two: I am always in pursuit of a good story. I am a teller of stories. It’s what I do. It’s my shtick. Not going to this wedding would be a huge missed opportunity. It was too good to pass up. And, I could never disappoint all of you, my faithful audience. One too many of you asked for this. So, I pressed onward.
Gasworks park is a strange place. At the center of a few grassy knolls, amidst winding gravel paths, stands a monolith of rusted iron.
This former coal plant was transformed into a lush center for the community. A little beauty pulled out from an industrial wasteland.
Time was running short, the wedding was supposed to start soon. I craned my neck, looking over and around the hills, trying to find the nuptial celebration. As I round the structure, I saw an arrangement of white chairs nestled next to some of the rocks on the south shore of the park. I had arrived. As I stepped over and around goose shit, the wind carried a phrase to my ears “holy shit, he’s here”. I look up and I see the groom along with one of his best men walking towards me. My two interviewees. It would be an understatement to say that they were surprised to see me. After a few vigorous handshakes and shocked statements, I took my seat and waited for the ceremony to begin. A small boombox trumpeted the wedding procession as the groomsmen and bridesmaids pair off, walking down the makeshift aisle. The final bridesmaid dragged a King Charles Spaniel in a bow-tie down to the front. His name is Winston and he’s adorable.
The first notes of Wagner’s Bridal Chorus lilt over the hustle and bustle of the park, causing everyone present to rise and turn towards the smiling bride. Aside from the occasional pause to allow an airplane to pass overhead or to let the honking and cheers of passing boats die down, the wedding went off without a hitch. Prayers were said to spirits of each of the four elements and, as is customary in the Jewish tradition, glass was crushed underfoot.
There are not many things of which I am certain. That being said, I can say with full certainty that the bride and groom deeply care about each other. I’ve always had an admiration for wedding vows. There are not many instances where people indulge in a moment of appreciation: to look deeply into someone’s eyes and eloquently articulate how they make you feel. Its one of the few moments where words are sent straight from the speaker’s heart into that of the listeners. Listening to Neil and Sam, in front of all their friends and family, and me, confess their love for one another made my heart full. In its own way, Gasworks park was a perfect location for a wedding. Amidst all of the grime and scrap metal, a beautiful park was created. And, in the chaos and turmoil of the world we live in, two souls found each other, binding their futures, and created one life to live together.
Following the wedding was the reception in downtown Seattle. We ate, we drank, and I managed to keep the “Oh, how do you know Neil? Well, I met him in a coffee shop three days ago” conversation down to a minimum. Several toasts later, I left the festivities because I had an appointment to keep.
Around the corner, on 1st Ave, on the 4th floor, room 20, was the launch party for NWMJ Law, the first law firm dedicated to assisting cannabis businesses. One of my contacts, who turned out to be a partner at said firm, invited me to this party to meet some people. Within 15 minutes, I knew I was out of my depth. These were serious business types and here I was, the playwright with my little notebook, trying to insert myself into conversations in the hopes of grabbing a business card. At the 30 minute mark, I had convinced myself that this was a failed venture. I had given it the ol’ college try but I wasn’t going anywhere. My inability to deal with larges groups of people that I don’t know got the best of me.
I was halfway down the stairs, on my way out the door, before I stopped myself. Quitting at this stage of the game was an old Noah move. The shy, insecure middle-schooler was peaking his head out from the box I stuffed him in long ago. I refused to let a little nervousness and social anxiety get the better of me. So, I turned around and headed back up the stairs, determined. New year, new me. And I was ready to get some contacts, damn it. I started playing to my strengths. One on one conversation. I began to engage with the loners, the people just off to the sides of the large groups. That’s how I met Dan, one of the firm’s lawyers, my homeboy from Skokie, who moved out west several decades ago. I started to feel more comfortable, more in my element. And that’s when I started to hear rumblings about LL. Dan urged me to go take a look.
Down into the elevator I went. I began exploring on the lower level and around a corner I found it. A small, open air courtyard containing a glass table and a few chairs. On that table were the free samples. Weed and joints galore, for our testing. Shortly after I had arrived, a few other guests came in and we started to pass around the joints. I had found my people. I was lighting up with middle aged lawyers and business men in well fitted suits. It was surreal. Soon, more and more people came flooding in, until there were at least 15 people chatting and smoking weed.
My entire life, cannabis has been a part of a small counterculture. It’s rebellious. It’s secretive. It’s “illegal”. We have our own rules, our own way of life. In Seattle, all that was in the shadows was brought out into the light. People were openly talking about their weed businesses and consumption. They were making deals over a bowl. I saw parents and grandparents discussing their favorite strains and comparing notes. I was acutely aware that I had arrived in the future.
It was here that I made my contacts and truly began to enjoy myself. In our little smoking circle, one of the lawyer’s wives was concerned that I was going to smoke myself into a coma. To which I replied “I go to college, I’ll be fine”.
Seattle’s a wild ride.
Your stoned playwright,