Mirrortown

Phillip and I spent this afternoon visiting two new friends, Briemh and Purrzah. We were both a little nervous about it – would we run out of things to talk about, would we find enough common interests to last through the visit, etc. We all had a terrific afternoon, never ran out of things to talk about, and played games well together. Phillip and I are looking forward to our next visit.

Finding their place was an interesting adventure. Purrzah had emailed us their address on Grand Avenue, in Everett, as well as directions on how to get there, where to park, and what their apartment building looks like. I committed the description of the building to memory, but ignored the directions. Last night, I entered their address as a waypoint in our GPSr, and planned on relying on the autorouting software to get us there. Besides, looking on the map, it was right off I-5. All we really had to do was remember which exit to take, and we’d be right on Grand Ave.

We had a travel bug we’d picked up last weekend, so we decided to find one geocache in Everett to drop the bug. We found the cache easily enough, then used the GPSr to get us from there to Breimh and Purrzah’s place. We phoned Purrzah and told her we were on our way.

We found the alley and the guest parking spot next to the telephone pole (I didn’t see a dumpster next to the parking spot – maybe I misremembered that part), but were confused about which apartment building it was. We called, Breimh answered, and told us to look for a blue-grey building. We were behind a blue-grey building. We walked around the building and found the correct apartment number. There was a sign on the door similar to, but not exactly like, the decoration Purrzah had described. (Maybe I misremembered that, too.) The woman who answered the door was nice about it, but we had the wrong apartment.

We called again, and asked Purrzah to walk out to the alley and find us. Breimh did, but didn’t see us. We couldn’t see him. Purrzah asked us where we were. We’re in the alley off of Grand Avenue, between 24th and 25th Streets. That’s exactly where you should be, but Breimh can’t see you. Did you get here by turning off Everett Avenue, Purrzah asked. Yes, we did. Purrzah suggested that we drive back to Grand Avenue, she would sit on their porch and wave to us as we passed.

We drove up and down Grand Avenue. We did not see Purrzah waving to us. Purrzah did not see a dark green Prius cruising by. We did not see an apartment building with the correct address, either.

Can you see the water from where you are, asked Purrzah. Yes, we can, and we can see a huge pile of sawdust in the distance. Yes, that’s the lumber mill we can see from our apartment.

“This really strange,” remarked Purrzah. Phillip and I were frustrated.

“OK, so tell me exactly where you are right now,” said Purrzah. Phillip was driving, and I was on the cell phone. “We’re stopped right now…” I said. I looked at the street sign. “…at the corner of E Grand Ave and 23rd Street.”

“Oh, wait! We don’t live on East Grand Avenue! We live on Grand Avenue!” “So where’s Grand Avenue?” I asked. (I was expecting the answer to be: Continue on East Grand until it turns into Grand Avenue.) “We’re on the other side of downtown. You need to go back to Everett Avenue, and follow it west to Grand.”

That’s right. The city of Everett, Washington has two avenues named “Grand.” They do not connect to each other. They are on the exact opposite sides of downtown. They both intersect with Everett Avenue. They both intersect with the same 23rd, 24th, and 25th Streets. They both overlook water and a lumber mill. They both have a blue-grey apartment building between 24th and 25th.

As Phillip put it: Why would a city have two different streets with the same name?

As I was writing this post, I was looking at the street map. The two avenues next to East Grand Avenue are “Cleveland Avenue” and “Harrison Avenue,” so, apparently, “East” is part of East Grand’s name, rather than a geographic designation.

Now that I think about that crazy city’s streets, why do Everett Ave, Hewitt Ave, and Pacific Ave run east and west when all other avenues in Everett run north and south?

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