Autumn in Seattle is like driving through a soup of sneeze spray. The cloud ceiling is low, pets are moody and pedestrians focus on their destination with as little courtesy as possible. One might think a crystal blue autumn sky would be welcome here, but I look to it with distrust. It’s just not natural.
I was first aware of the ominous autumn sun after peeling myself off the floor and away from the TV on Tuesday, the 11th of September, 2001. I spent the morning like most of the world watching the news but couldn’t delay my workday any longer. I opened my apartment door and stepped into the bright sunlight. The air was still. No birds. No wind or airplanes flying over Jet City. It was eerie. Unobstructed views of the Olympic Mountain over one shoulder and the Cascades on the other. No clouds. Silent.
It was as if I was caught in a YouTube “loading” loop, witnessing a hiccup in reality. A moment later a car started and a flock of birds erupted from a tree. Time started back up but there was a sense reality was altered. Everyone touched by that sky changed, whether they knew it or not.
Tuesday, the 8th of November, 2016, Election Day. I walked across the driveway to take the kids to school. I looked up at the brilliant November sun. I closed my eyes and bathed in it because I might not see it again until May. It was so warm. The warmest recorded November day in Seattle history, as it turns out. No airplanes. No cars passing my busy street. The children already out of earshot. Déjà vu seeped in and stunned me with a jolt. Blood drained from my face and I had the first of a series of small panic attacks that were like little strokes of warning. Life will be different; reality altered. Everyone touched by this sky will change whether we know it yet or not.
Like a memory linked to a smell or a song, a cloudless Seattle day in autumn will forever give me pause; darkness disguised as light.