Back in early September, my mother was visiting us from out of town. It was the week of my brother’s wedding, and she was – as any mother would be – flustered. On an innocuous trip to JC Penny’s, the unthinkable happened. She set her purse on a random chair as she went to return a pair of shoes. When she came back…it had been gutted. Her wallet was missing. She kept everything in that wallet, except money.
Credit cards and cash were in her jacket pocket, but her IDs, her birth certificate and her passport were in her wallet. Everything that identified her as – well – her was now in someone else’s possession. The worst part? She and my stepdad were making a trip to Ireland later in the month. And now she had no passport.
She spent the rest of the week swimming through the sea of red tape to get everything expedited. Most of the documents, she was able to replace in one way or the other. The red herring was the passport. The only way to expedite that process was to go straight to the nearest port authority. And that was located…in Seattle.
While she wasn’t entirely keen on the idea, I offered to go with her. We could view it as a mother/son trip. Plus, there was a tearoom in Seattle I wanted to notch off, anyway. That and neither of us had been to Pike Street Market in forever. She agreed, and we planned to make the trek on my next day off.
The day of the trip, it seemed nothing would let us leave Portland. We encountered two roadside accidents, flash-flood rains, and gridlock on the way out of Oregon proper. That and the bridge to Vancouver had been lifted. The worst part was that the trip was time sensitive. We only had four hours to make our way to the port authority before it closed. My mother was calm. I was…well…this.
As luck would have it, we made it just on time. Traffic into Seattle – shockingly enough – was pretty bare. Roads were mostly empty. I’d never encountered that in Seattle – ever. I dropped Mum off at the authority building, circled around several blocks to find parking, and then set about foraging for food. Eureka! A shawarma eatery was just down the road from the building. As I waited for the matriarch, I gorged on meaty goodness.
Mum called twenty minutes later, informing me that she was done. All that hassle to get up to Seattle…for only twenty minutes of processing. She had all her documental ducks in a row, and the passport gears were set in motion.
Our next stop was an obvious one. After all we’d been through, it was time for tea. The Perennial Tea Room was a place I’d always wanted to venture, but never had the opportunity. While not the oldest tearoom in Seattle, it was the only one to have the same owners throughout its run. Where a lot of teashops change hands multiple times, Perennial remained steadfast with its current crew.
The fun lay in trying to find the place. It was situated in this back-alley area between several buildings. Seriously, finding it was like going through Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
When we arrived, I beheld a magnificent site. In front of the tearoom were three bearded old men having a cuppa and shootin’ the breeze. A thought went through my head, This is how I want to die.
We went inside, and there is no other word to describe The Perennial Tea Room other than “darling”. Although not the largest tea place I’d set foot in, the menagerie on display was the most diverse. Naturally, I bee-lined to the teas they had ready-made. There were three carafes with tea for the serving. One of them was a Keemun Hao Ya A. Damn…I was home.
As sipped my Keemun like a drunkard, Mum settled in with a Peach Ceylon something-er-other. We conversed for a bit as we sat by the window.
After killing some time with conversation, my attention turned to the loose-leaf selection they had on display. I squinted for a moment, then got up to take a closer look.
On our way out, I bought a to-go cup of the Persian. I remember liking the stuff quite a bit, and admired its ability to take a brew-beating. I let the leaves steep continuously, as my mother and I journeyed down to Pike Street.
The only time I remember visiting the market was when I was in my pre-teens. I only had the vaguest of memories about the place. Funny, considering how memorably crowded it is. For those that’ve never been, think of it as a cramped but exciting fish bazaar. Mum and I walked the inner path of the market, picked up some crab to munch on, and just marveled at the sights. I could see why this was tourist destination.
We returned home later in the evening – exhausted. I think I went to bed particularly early that night. Mum was more relaxed as well – passport mission accomplished. Before turning in for the night, another thought occurred to me. If I ever found out who put my mother through that hassle to begin with…well…
I have a metal kettle, and I’m not afraid to use it.