JENNY HAYES – Seattle – 2023

My friends Margaret and Jenny were in town for the AWP conference, staying at my house. They went to the conference that day and I worked from home. My manager was out of town and I had to cover for her, giving a presentation, or I might have tried to tag along, even though I hadn’t bought a ticket. The presentation went fine and then around 4 I drove down to pick them up at the conference center and then head up to Elliott Bay Books, where the three of us were part of a group reading. It was the first time I’d read my work in public in about 5 years. Felt good. I kinda lost my writing mojo during the pandemic – even a little before the pandemic, if I’m honest, but it really went dark then. Slowly starting to feel energized about it and this helped. I’d hoped to come up with something new but I ended up reading a short story I’d written years before, but hadn’t read in public more than once or twice. The reading was great and everyone managed to stay on time. Some of the pieces were funny, some were sad, some were powerful, some were all of those. It felt good to be a part of it. After the reading the plan was for everyone to go to the Wildrose – Seattle’s longest-running (maybe only?) lesbian bar. I’d never been there before. There was a crowd, but lots of open tables and couches. Someone asked and heard that the people standing around were there to pick up t-shirts for a bowling league. While buying Old Fashioneds for me and Margaret I spotted a bumper sticker behind the bar that said I Don’t Mind Straight People, As Long As They Act Gay In Public. After one drink the three of us were hungry so we went to a pizza place down the street and got slices and root beers. We sat in the corner eating them and watching what turned out to be The Crow on TV. None of us had ever seen it before but it wasn’t hard to figure out what it was. That makeup is famous and there were crows. As we got up to leave I realized I’d lost one of my earrings. They were long and dangly, made from a 7″ single cut into triangles. I’d bought them in Pittsburgh in 2019. Long earrings (like houseguests and literary readings and hanging out in bars) are another thing I got un-used to over the past three years. They get tangled up in masks. And apparently scarves – I was wearing a thick one. We looked all over our booth but it wasn’t there. I figured it was a longshot but we went back to the Wildrose, where all our friends were still hanging out, and one of them found it! A small miracle. A lovely night.