One of my all time favorite books is Ceremonial Time by John Hanson Mitchell. It's about the spiritual history of a place in Massachusetts. I think I live in a place like that too.
I have one of those rocks you can hide a key in. But it’s not mine. I found it in the planting bed around my building. I thought about taking the key out and using the rock but I decided not to. I like the idea of that key that opened some other place.
This building was a party pad for a long time. I like to think about opening the door to my place before me with that key and the smells that would come out. I imagine them stale. I see a picture on the wall that hasn’t been noticed for a long time; thick stained drapes in a room dark and forgotten. That’s the way it was from photos I saw when I moved here after the condo conversion. Now this place has light and windows that honor the view of Elliott Bay. Wind flows from front to back all summer when I open the door and I sit here watching osprey, eagles, sea lions and seagulls whenever I can.
This building is on rocks on Alki Point. There is a small beach around the point. At the Duwamish Longhouse there is a map that shows a summer convening place here—a different kind of party. I wish I could picture it but that seems disrespectful. I can’t picture it. I have no idea of what it was like; but I can honor the spirits that I feel.
Last month a local tribe stopped at Alki Beach in their long canoes. I happened to be walking on Alki. While the cultural genocide of intermarrying has made many white, there were many brown faces and seeing the actual first people here in numbers on the beach was jarring. It wiped out time. They looked so connected to the ground and I felt invisible. They owned this place and I was the outsider. What a reversal.
When I leave and close the imagined door I put the key back in the rock and just leave it there because. The history of this place and those people reside in that rock outside my door.