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Notice of Proposed Land Use

Christina Ana Montilla

30 years ago

My favorite place at the doctor’s office is the magnificent gift shop that Grandma takes me to after each of her appointments. Sunlight winks on crystal shelves full of glass and porcelain angel figurines that feel like they could be mine someday. When I’m rich and fancy. Grandma buys me a Beanie Baby with our bus money. Outside, Grandma and I hold hands on hectic Madison Street to keep us from falling down First Hill’s grade as steep as a slide. Her limp and my skip send songs through the wide honeycombs of her disintegrating bones.  


20 years ago


All that Grandma let on about growing up on Beacon Hill is that it was once the city’s dump. Now I live here like a fucking punk-ass. I race from my place on Hanford Street to catch the sunset from the newly reopened and redesigned Jefferson Park, a groomed swath of grass atop acres of an old reservoir like a commercial for balding men. I watch the west. I live off-lease in the basement of a dirty house. A place with used condoms frozen to the front lawn. We don’t mow, or sweep, or clean hair out of the bathroom sinks. I have to undo my living quarters as if I’m storage whenever the landlords come through. My grandmother is dead now. I watch the day sink like a burning yacht behind the ridge of West Seattle. Eventually this day slips faraway over the crown of the Olympic Mountains. Maybe, in Grandma’s day, the poor had this view and that was a good thing.


15 years ago


Of course he’s from North Dakota. Of course he works for what us locals call “the big three.” That’s about as interesting as he gets.  


On my way to Farmdale, where the Polish rebuilt community, and now it’s the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard. Don’t call me a native. I’m local. We come from immigrants. We, the “preferred” settlers, who helped rob this place.


Home is a place that dies a thousand times inside you.


What’s more white than a bar that prides itself on snow sports. On my way to meet friends at a hip bar, I pass another new condo high-rise coming out of the ground. There is a plastic banner across the jobsite fence, bearing the condo’s slogan: “Where we want, we live.” And someone has graffitied our collective plea, “God, kill everyone now.” 


Inside the snowboarding-themed bar, North Dakota wears his fresh Ray Bans despite it being ten o’clock and the beginning of the goldfish races. There are coffee grounds stuck to his perfect lower teeth. I’m wondering if his slick-gelled hair and the way he explains to me the difference between APAs and IPAs, but still orders PBR, is compensating for natural social awkwardness. Does he even like PBR?


Where I was born and raised and now stuck is an adventure he chose on a whim. I leave him to smoke a cigarette and he says he wants one, too, like he’s tight. I bum him one and he tells me he works from home. Cool.


I order us another round. I tell him I don’t want the party to end and I let him stumble into me and kiss me against a pool table. Behind us yuppies urge their goldfish to the finish line. They squirt, squirt, squirt. I’m disassociating. I’m wanting his cock. I want to know what it’s like to live in an adventure. I want to know what it feels like to choose anywhere in the world to live and just, Poof! be able to move there. Doesn’t everyone worry about money? I want to know why people would move to this cursed second-growth place. 

From his mini Fiat, we stumble out into the gated, underground parking garage of a new condo a few blocks away. The building is painted in the palette of “desert sunset”—burgundy, squash, burnt orange, stone gray. I meet his bulldog. There’s a pour-over where my Mr. Coffee would be. I meet his handsome roommate. I ask to smoke on their balcony, and this is what I really came for. As he buries his head into my chest and his fingers scurry over my jeans for the head of my clit, I fix my eyes past him at the most gorgeous corner view, the highest west-facing view I have ever seen from Farmdale. I’ve only been on the beach.

From the city night-lights, to the lamps aglow below us at the Ballard Locks, the marina, and across the Puget Sound, I feel like all of this is mine, too. The navy night from the sidewalk to the cosmos feels round. Whole as your first feeling of home. Was it where you were born? With another person? It’s the center core of a spiral that you keep coming back to until the final breath of your life. I want to sleep there on the balcony, in the blue-black like a stray dog. But I, too, am paying for this view. He leads me into his messy Ikea bedroom. He unclasps my bra in the dark and I lie back obediently on his smelly and unmade bed. I won’t ever remember his name and he won’t mine. Above us, a five-by-five foot canvas print of the Death Star watches me give the stranger what he wants anyway.

Christina Ana Montilla is a multi-genre writer from Seattle, Washington. She writes in-between spaces, characters at the collision of disparate realities, and is currently obsessed with the notion of acceptance. Her creative nonfiction and poetry are published with Moss, Papeachu Review, Duende, and elsewhere.

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