The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.
I was there to take photos of a world record-setting implosion in Seattle. Something much bigger happened instead.
To Seattleites, the Kingdome was a cultural icon. For over 20 years, it was the mostly-beloved home of the Seahawks, Mariners, and SuperSonics. And on this day, March 26th, 2000, it was becoming a pile of concrete rubble.
Thanks to a friend who was working construction on the Newmark building in downtown, I had access to a rooftop with a clear view of the dome. I arrived, set up my camera, and took in the view as people filed in.
Just before the main event, a friend tapped me on the shoulder, pointed toward the door and said, “Is that… Eddie Vedder? Wait, and Chris Cornell?” Sure enough, we were sharing the roof with cultural icons of a different sort; the lead singers of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, respectively.
After we all had a chance to ogle the gods of grunge, there was a countdown, a crack of dynamite, and a calamitous roar as the world’s largest implosion by volume commenced before our eyes.
After the enormous cloud of dust blanketed the city, I dropped off film to be developed and packed my bags for travel that night to Las Vegas, where I was attending a conference for customers of my employer. At the time, Sachi was a work friend and nothing more.
On the second day of the conference, I found myself with a few hours to kill and asked Sachi if she wanted to join me in touring Las Vegas. She did and I soon learned that she was a more-than-qualified tour guide. Her family, like many in Hawaii, made Las Vegas a common mainland destination and she knew it well. We rode the Tower at the Stratosphere and the roller coaster at New York New York twice, so we could get a good souvenir photo:
Spending time with Sachi outside of work helped me see a more authentic side of her and one that I enjoyed. We didn’t just kill time, we had fun together.
That night, the company had an event that led to a group of conference-goers, Sachi and I included, heading out for a classic night of Vegas over-indulgence. And we did indulge, thanks to a salesman who, in a move that was later deemed controversial, bought drinks all night on a company card. We danced, we drank, we laughed. I remember wanting to dance with Sachi more than anyone else.
Sometime in the wee hours, we grew tired, and Sachi and I broke off from the group for the night. On the way out of the bar, we bid goodnight to our dear friend Sandra, who today claims she could see, at that moment, sparks starting to fly.
Fortuitously, a single elevator serviced both floors where we shared rooms with colleagues. And it was on that short elevator ride that we had our first kiss. Sandra was right. I could barely sleep.
The next day, I flew back to Seattle and met my parents at the airport. I was scheduled for shoulder surgery in two days and they arrived to help me through the process. As we settled into my small apartment, I asked about going out to dinner and an idea occurred to me that, looking back, may have been a bit hasty. I could invite Sachi!
That night, Sachi and I had our first date… with my parents. As we dined on upscale Chinese food at Wild Ginger, I got to know Sachi right along with my parents. My Mom was relieved to hear Sachi likes dogs. I learned Sachi studied microbiology at the University of Washington and liked football. We were off to a good start.
Looking back, those few days in the spring of 2000 were among the most exciting of my life. I was coming off of a difficult start in Seattle and finally feeling at home. My roots in the city were starting to grow and in Sachi, I had rays of sunlight and sparks. Lots and lots of sparks.