Open Letter

Dear Cascadia Subduction Zone

I'm still standing, baby.

January 25, 2016 Published in the February 2016 issue of Seattle Met

Courtesy chris blakeley pfzyao

From: Highway 99
Subject: I Will Survive

I bet you thought I’d fall apart after you left, didn’t you? 

You saw me shaking—if you even bothered to look back in the first place—and probably imagined I was so upset by the devastation you wrought that I’d just give up and crumble. (I had a hunch you were an arrogant fault line.) But oh no, honey. I’m still here, and there’s not a damn thing that you or any other force—tectonic, political, or otherwise—can do about it.

Oh, you’re going to play like you don’t remember me? Fine, let me jog your memory, Mr. I’m Too Busy Grinding Up the Earth’s Crust to Call or Text. First of all, I’m in Seattle. (Figured you might need the hint because from what I’ve heard, you get around—like all-up-and-down-the-West-Coast around.) And it was 15 years ago this February—the 28th, to be exact—that you got me all shook up. Late that morning, just as I’d finally begun to relax after rush hour, I felt a vibration move up my columns. I gotta be honest: At first it was exciting. (Don’t judge me. I was a 48-year-old elevated roadway whose idea of hot action up to that point was an overturned semi.) But then I realized you were just passing through on your way to wrecking other homes, and I don’t play with players, baby.

I’ve had plenty of time to think about what you did, and I’ll admit, I was mad for a good long while. No one gets to walk all over me like you did. (Driving all over me is a different story. Happens every day.) So I was good and ready when everyone around town started to attack me. Do you know some people wanted to take me down? They saw my scars and thought I couldn’t stand up for myself. (Victim blame much?) They’re talking about, “She’s past her prime. She needs to go.” They even pulled some TMZ-type ish and smeared me online by leaking a video of how supposedly easy it is to sweep me off my feet. Please. That thing was faker than Mayor Murray saying he wants to make housing affordable.

Then you know what happened next? They started sneaking around behind my back and underneath me, with someone named Bertha. Let me tell you how that worked out: It didn’t. She didn’t move an inch for two years—while Bertha Knight Landes rolls in her grave, ironically—and I’ll be surprised if her little plan to replace me ever works out. She may have a lot of guys fighting over her, but you don’t have to be a city planner to know it’s because none of them wants to be stuck picking up her tab at the end of the night.

I guess my point is, I’m not scared. And that’s all because of you. I may have settled for you—four and three-quarter inches, to be exact—but I decided that if you couldn’t knock me down, nobody could.

By the way, I read your little profile in The New Yorker, about how you’ve been working out, getting all jacked up before you come back to town. Well, I’ve had some work done, too, mister. Took care of my sagging bits with some steel beams and filled in all the wrinkles with epoxy. Thanks to some structural engineers and the taxpayers of Seattle, I’ve never looked better. So lemme tell you something: A weaker structure might give in and let you back into their life, but not me. Oh hell no. Like I always say, crack my foundation and cause parts of me to sink five inches into the ground once, shame on you. Crack my foundation and cause parts of me to sink five inches into the ground twice, shame on me.

So don’t bother trying to get in touch. I wouldn’t waste my time on you if I was the last thing standing in Seattle. 


The Alaskan Way Viaduct

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