Indepenence Day 2017




First, a little history -- just what you wanted! You're welcome!

For many, many years, Seattle had two major community fireworks events for Independence Day: "Fourth of Jul-Ivar's," which had been sponsored by local (and beloved) Seattle seafood chain Ivar's, on the waterfront; and "Family Fourth," which has gone through several sponsors through the years, on Lake Union.

"Fourth of Jul-Ivar's" occurred annually for 44 years, between 1965 and 2008. It was always my preferred show, for two pretty major reasons: the waterfront (Elliott Bay) was always far more accessible to me as a resident of either downtown or Capitol Hill; and I just prefer downtown and the idea of fireworks right along where the Seattle skyline is anyway. In fact, it was my first-ever Seattle fireworks show, before I even moved to Seattle -- Danielle and her then-boyfriend Seth drove me there from Pullman to spend 4th of July weekend in 1997. I don't think I'll ever forget Danielle peeing on the parking garage floor in front of her car after the fireworks ended because she had to go too badly and couldn't find a bathroom. Danielle and I spent many Independence Days together over several of the following years, making it a bit of a tradition for a while. But, by 2008, Ivar's called it quits, saying they wanted to shift the funds they were spending on it to "other community work."

I have a vague recollection of the general consensus around town being that the fireworks show on Lake Union tended to be better, but I still preferred the waterfront for the reasons I just mentioned. The history of that one took me a while to get a sense of, after quite a bit of Googling this morning; only once I found this archived Seattle P-I article from 2002 was I able to calculate that that show began in 1991. According to that article, for its first 11 years, the presenting sponsor was AT&T. So, they would have been the ones who put it on when Danielle and I first went to GasWorks Park for their fireworks show in 2000 -- the one time I ever went all the way to that park for the 4th; the crowd and the traffic afterward was just too nuts to do again; it took forever to get back home. We did Lake Union together again in 2004, though -- without Shobhit, even though we had started dating a couple weeks before that, but he was on a trip to India -- because we went out on her and Patrick's boat. That was probably the best fireworks experience I ever had, because we were on the water and the fireworks were so huge directly above us that it almost felt as though they might touch us. We did attempt the same boat experience again, this time with Shobhit, in 2005, but wound up seeing no fireworks show at all that year because the boat broke down on Lake Washington.

But anyway! As of 2002, the presenting sponsor of "Family Fourth" on Lake Union switched to One Reel. Beyond that, curiously, the best detail I could find of sponsorship history was from the West Seattle blog: a donation drive was launched in 2013 by One Reel, no longer able to foot the entire bill, citing the "historic title-sponsor model" as "no longer sustainable." I guess that year, there was briefly some question as to whether Seattle would have a major fireworks event at all. West Seattle Blog posted about that in March of 2013, though, and then offered an update a month and a half later, in April, evidently revealing that the City, its mayor (McGinn, at the time), Seafair and a bunch of other sponsors had pulled together to make sure the show stayed on.

Note that in 2013, that was the first of four years in a row that I spent the 4th with Shobhit at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.

As of 2017, apparently the event is officially titled "Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Seafair Summer 4th." Historically, the major park to go to this event was only Gas Works, on the north shore of the lake; for the past seven years, Lake Union Park on the south shore has also been included. Lake Union Park opened in 2010; Susan and I went to its Grand Opening in September of that year. It was still under construction on July 4th that year, but has been open for fireworks viewing every year since -- I did still go to Lake Union, walking down to watch the show briefly with my first roommate, Delan, in 2010; but was in New York City with Shobhit for 2011; went to Lake Killarney with Gabriel and his family in 2012; and as already stated, Los Angeles 2013-16.

So! As I was walking down to Lake Union Park early yesterday evening, I was thinking about how Independence Day this year was going to be a very new experience, even though I was back in Seattle for it again, and also even though it was back to the Lake Union fireworks show: now it would be viewed from Lake Union Park, with Shobhit. It occurred to me this may become our new tradition for the holiday, for several years at least.

As has been the case every year since 2013, though, the holiday was spent with only Shobhit. (The last time Shobhit and I were together in Seattle for the 4th was 2009, when, due to living in a temporary apartment with a perfect view for it while their Magnolia home was being remodeled, we went to Karen's place.) We did invite Ivan to join us, but I knew he would decline; he wants to cross the street to be in shadow away from the sun when we're just walking someplace to get dinner, and I knew he would have no desire to sit in the sun in the midst of a big crowd with me for five hours.

Besides, even though he kept joking that he was "going to stay home and feel sorry for myself" or "sit at home and cry," I was sure he had other preferred plans. When I left at around 4:45 yesterday, after I had made us both a Moscow Mule to drink and he had returned to his bedroom but had still left his door open, I said, "Have fun with whatever plans you actually have." He replied, "I'm going to start crying now!" I was focusing on putting my sandals on by the front door and he called out, "Matthew look at me!" so I could see him collapsed on his side on his bed as though in despair. Except he had a huge grin. And he even said, after I told him we'd likely be back shortly before 11, "Take your time!" That indicated to me that he would likely be having some guy over.

And indeed, he did: Shobhit and I each got a Facebook Message from him while we were walking back home that was much more pointed about his intentions than he usually is: FYI I have a hot guy over right now. Shobhit, to my eternal exasperation because he pointlessly over-focuses on sex with people in a way that consistently makes me uncomfortable, actually responded with something like, So you're having an orgy?? Jesus Christ. Ivan, ever the paragon of social graces (a bit of an irony given his Asperger's, but as he loves to point out, he's "very high functioning"), responded with his own quip: That's not until midnight. Still, I sent my own response: Yeah I heard. And am genuinely embarrassed by Shobhit's reply FYI. The response I got was, I'm all done crying now at least.

In the few times Ivan and I have actually discussed Shobhit's behavior along these lines, Ivan clearly has a certain distaste for it, which underscores my wish that Shobhit knock it off: although he never seems particularly bothered by it, Ivan has even commented on how "inappropriate" Shobhit can be. Indeed. Why Shobhit can't seem to learn from obvious indicators that he should alter his behavior, I'll never know. When we went to bed, he told them to "have fun" and "don't be too loud!" and that last bit was completely unnecessary, if not also inappropriate. (Admittedly even I find it sort of borderline on the second point.)

Another unusual thing: when Shobhit and I got home, Ivan had not yet taken his guest to his bedroom; they were sitting together on the love seat in the living room, having drinks made from booze the guy had clearly brought over. It may have been the booze talking, but Ivan kind of went out of his way to make conversation with me, and with Shobhit, when we got home -- which we did about ten or fifteen minutes apart, because Shobhit wanted to stop at Hot Mama's Pizza on the way home and I had no desire to wait in the long line there. (When I got home first, Ivan said, "Where's your immature husband?" making reference to Shobhit's text about an orgy; when Shobhit got home I heard Ivan say, "That's my immature roommate, Shobhit.") In fact I went pretty much straight to the bedroom, so I could get the photos edited and uploaded (I didn't even put them into a photo set, let alone tag them or do any captioning, until this morning). It was actually well past 11:00 by the time we got home as it was. I got a terrible night's sleep, with far too little of it, a second night in a row last night. I will likely go to bed earlier than usual tonight.

Ivan has guests of this sort over fairly regularly, actually -- something he never, ever did when he lived with me in 2014, although he apparently did when I was out of town, as he told me within the past year or so. There seems to be two reasons for this, though: in 2014 he was overly smitten with one particular guy who did not have mutual feelings, and it made Ivan less inclined to play with other guys; and more generally, he just seems more comfortable about this stuff around us overall now, and is simply more open about it.

As I was struggling to maintain any consistent sleep, last night's guest actually prompted me to get out of bed, shortly after the guy left, around 3 a.m. Why? Because he was standing outside on the street, calling out Ivan's name to get his attention: "Ivan! Ivan! Ivan!" His voice echoed down the street; he could no doubt be heard by everyone within at least a three-block radius. He even did this in two different sequences, occasionally punctuating it with a whistle. I debated whether to go say something to Ivan, who was in the bathroom and clearly could not hear the guy. After the guy starting calling out to Ivan a second time, I figured it best to get up and indicate to Ivan that he guy needed to be shut up.

I put on my bathrobe, went to stand outside Ivan's closed bathroom door, and called out his name. "Yes?" he asked. "That guy is calling you from the street. I just thought you should know."

Ivan then opened the door and came out, in his boxer briefs, and giggled: "Oh. I guess he must have really liked me." (I got a strong sense that Ivan was, in the end, not particularly into him, actually. Neither Shobhit nor I found him particularly sexy either, incidentally.) I went back to my room and actually stopped to use the toilet; within a minute or two the guy started calling Ivan's name again. I heard Ivan say, "Okay, I'll bring it down!"

This was not the first time some guy left something behind in Ivan's bedroom. Another guy left a ring on his windowsill, and took several weeks to come back and get it. This morning I messaged Ivan an image of a sign that reads, NOTICE: Check that you have all your belongings before you leave, and suggested he start hanging that on the inside of his bedroom door.


I discovered something rather interesting about that 10-story building that I think may be the tallest of any on the shores of Lake Washington -- it's called the AGC Building and it was constructed on the southwest shore in 1971 -- the other day, when I went with Shobhit to the Starbucks that now occupies the one-story structure on the same plot over the lake but just to the left/west of it. I was standing outside the entrance, looking around at the lake and at the Seattle skyline beyond, and I was like, Hey, I recognize this.

Turns out, that Starbucks used to be McCormick & Schmick's Harborside Restaurant, which apparently closed several years ago -- the most recent reviews on Yelp are from 2012. That was the restaurant where I had my Birth Week dinner with Gabriel and Stephanie in 2004, only a month and a half before Shobhit and I first met. I had two cocktails and a shot during that dinner and got a little drunk, which you can really see in the photo of Gabriel and me that I asked Stephanie to take.

There's another detail that makes this association much more interesting, but which I am not -- yet? -- allowed to reveal in this journal. But you can learn a little more by clicking the photo above. (Clicking the other two photos in today's entry, both at the top and at the bottom, will take you to the full photo set on Flickr.) In any case, that was our view of the building from Lake Union Park.

. . . And I've kind of gone off on some major tangents here in this entry, haven't I? I haven't even mentioned yet that I was at the park by myself for a little over three hours, between 5:30 and 8:40, before Shobhit arrived after parking his car at home after a work shift. He walked quite quickly to meet me after that, and we were having a truly great time until just before the fireworks he started going off on his complete misperception of the problems in one of my friend's failed marriage, even though she's been separated from her husband for a few years now (this was the first of the two marriages I officiated that both ended), and I got very angry. Shobhit has a tendency to come to completely off-base conclusions about people he doesn't know well at all -- or certainly not as well as I do -- and it drives me insane. He also seems to downplay the significance of alcoholism (particularly in this case), because, as he has been demonstrating for years, he clearly has no concrete idea of the true significance and importance of it, as though the other partner being a bit of a nag could ever in any way come close. One of those things is a wrinkle in a relationship that can be ironed out relatively easily; the other is, when left unaddressed, clear cause for justifiable termination of a relationship.

Again, though, that was but a small percentage of my evening -- maybe ten or twenty minutes, really. And I was at the park for five hours or so, Shobhit with me for around two of them. I had set my blanket down on the grass right by the short white picket fence for the Beer Garden, inside of which was the "Silent Disco," where people dance not to music blaring that we all have to contend with, but to music curated by DJs through headphones they wear. They all looked pretty funny to any of us not also wearing headphones, but I could see how fun it probably was for them.

Shortly before the fireworks began, though, I took Shobhit's suggestion of packing up our blanket and entering the beer garden, which had no cover charge and only required us to show ID. We then walked to the fence on the other side, and now there was only the paid-ticket seating area (curiously, only about a quarter full) between us and the lake water.

The show did not begin until about a quarter after 10:00, and even then there was still a slight bit of light left in the sky. It had been a while since I had experienced this: in L.A. the fireworks always started at dark, but that tended to be around 9:00. I even Googled the sunset for the two cities this morning to confirm, and indeed, this time of year, with Seattle being close to a thousand miles north, sunset here is a full hour later than that in Los Angeles. This is why we get home so late, and why I am considering taking the 5th off of work next year just so I don't have to get up early after such a late time getting into bed. The 4th will be on Wednesday next year.

As for the rest of my day yesterday before all that, I pretty much just hung out at home. I read some of my book, and also watched a few episodes of GLOW on Netflix, which Shobhit even got a bit into before he left for work at a quarter to 3. Ivan hung out with me for a bit after that. He even suddenly said, in the middle of the show I was watching so I had to pause it, "Matthew I want to tell you something." Sometimes he says things like this, otherwise calm but still at slightly unnatural volume -- I always ascribe such subtle eccentricities to his Asperger's -- just out of the blue. He can sometimes tend to start conversation in an oddly startling way. Anyway, he then proceeded to tell me his first visit to Seattle was 10 years ago for 4th of July weekend; he had a weekend fling with some guy who drove him around town and he was "blown away" and knew he wanted to move here. His love for Seattle has since dissipated due to multiple instances of major heartbreak with men, and because he doesn't like the way the city regularly reminds him of such painful memories, his current goal is to move to Vancouver B.C. within the next couple of years, after a major trip to Eastern Europe that he's saving up for.

And this is what his relation of this memory, which he said he'd been thinking about all day, made me think of: ten years ago Ivan was 22 years old. That's exactly how old I was as well, when I first moved to Seattle, in 1998. That made me feel a little wistful, and also a little old. I am 9 years older than Ivan is though, after all.

Ivan and I had dinner together again on Monday evening, by the way, a bit spontaneously and again because of a conflict with Shobhit: he insisted on cutting up two jalapenos and adding them to the ravioli we made, and it pissed me off. He kept saying he was going to add them even though I said I didn't want them; I said, "Why should I be forced to eat jalapenos when I don't want them?" He kept insisting they aren't that hot, a typically completely wrong statement from a person who prefers things so hot that he can't recognize actual flavor. Ivan was in the living room while we were bickering about this and he said, "You guys make me glad I'm not married anymore. I used to have conversations like this." (I am certain he would actually prefer to have a husband in spite of stupid arguments like this -- just as both Shobhit and I clearly do.)

Shobhit had gotten a head start on the vegetable chopping, and when he said he had already chopped jalapenos, I said, "If this is too hot, I'm going to go buy myself dinner somewhere else. I'm not joking." Ivan chuckled and said, "We could go to Annapurna!" That's his favorite Himalayan restaurant, which on Monday Shobhit insisted is not that great, obvious revisionist history on his part: we've gone there in the past when he was openly impressed. Shobhit lives to be contradictory. I bet you wish you were the one married to him!

Anyway, I asked Shobhit, "How many jalapenos did you put in this?" -- and he fucking literally lied, later saying he did it just to calm me down: "None." The thing is, I was actually willing to compromise, and was going to pull out a jalapeno and cut it super fine, figuring I could handle that. But when I did that, he admitted he had already chopped to of them.

When the raviolis were done and the sauce added, and I dished myself a bowl, I sat eating it and began to stew. It was tolerable, but only barely. My tongue burned. I could not detect any of the flavor it would otherwise have had without the fucking spiciness. I would have been fine with it having only one jalapeno but two was clearly too much. I mean, I could have just braved it and been fine, but it was also the principle of the matter. As I said to Ivan later, I wanted a fucking dinner I actually liked the taste of! Of course Shobhit felt the same way, but here's the key difference: I was willing to compromise, and Shobhit fucked it up. So much so that this time he had even less reason than usual to complain about the amount of money I spend on eating out, which he does constantly. He did not protest when I said I was going to ask Ivan if he was serious about Annaburna.

So I knocked on his door, opened it, and asked Ivan exactly that. Ivan immediately laughed, finding it hilarious. "If not it's fine," I said. "I can just go find a sandwich somewhere." He replied, "No, I'll take any chance to eat at Annapurna."

So, within about five minutes, Ivan and I were walking to Broadway together. He even mentioned that it made no sense that Shobhit couldn't just put the jalapenos in his own pasta, which I had already said earlier in the evening. He also remarked, "This is the second time in a week we're going to eat at a restaurant together." It was the second time in three days, in fact; we'd gone to The Pho' on Saturday. When we got there it was pretty busy but they still seated us immediately. I had the vegetable kofta and it was far more delicious, to me, than that jalapeno ravioli could ever have hoped to be. I was careful not to eat it all, though, as the helpings are too big; I knew Shobhit could have leftover ravioli the next day and I could have this for lunch.

And then, literally about a block from home on our way back, I suddenly said, "Fuck! I forgot my leftovers." Ivan just said, "This just isn't your day, is it, Matthew?" I guess not. We then spent the rest of that evening watching The Host, by the same director as Snowpiercer and Ojka, streaming on Hulu, at Ivan's suggestion after I found out he had never seen it and figured he would like it since he really enjoyed the other two movies. He then proceeded to spend most of his time on his phone; he went out for several hours until quite late afterward. He hardly paid attention to the movie, but Shobhit did -- and Shobhit really enjoyed it, which was somewhat of a surprise to me. He was engaged at a level that rarely happens with him.

By yesterday, though, as a sort of show of good faith, I packed the last of the ravioli for Shobhit to have for dinner once he met me at the park. For most of our time at the park I had such a good time with him that I even specifically pointd it out: "I'm having a really good time." We were very much on the same wavelength, engaged with each other in equal measure, just enjoying spending quality time together. Too bad he had to nearly ruin it at the end. But, as always, eventually we got past it.