Seattle: Ian’s Fifty Shades of Grey


“Let me show you how he tied me up. In this hook, in this St Andrews cross – do you know what is St Andrews cross?”

I sat down with my cup of matcha latte in the sunny day of Seattle. Casted against the glimmering maple leaves, Ian looked happy. He matched up a cup of matcha latte. His face glowed, and light sifted through his chestnut hair. He drank up his latte, and thoughts flew to his romantic chamber, where he spent nights with his stolen lover.

I just remembered he wrote erotica while in college. He used to claim to the whole world, “I write erotica. You wanna see? I make good money from it.”

“No, I don’t know.” I said in the moment, “What is St Andrews cross?”

He plucked out some Google results. I saw an adult-size X-shaped cross, where martyrs were burned alive in the Reformation Age. Ian said, “You could chain a person on it, whip him, torture him, or in the modern day, do whatever you want with him.”


I arrived in Seattle in a rainy evening of Saturday. To be accurate, I touched down to West Seattle.

As the taxi drove pass the towering skyscrapers, I grew worried, “How far away is my Airbnb from downtown?”

“20 mins by drive.”

After 7 hours traveling from New York, I dragged my suitcase into the house. In my Manhattan brain, Seattle would be walkable within 5 mins. West Coast said no.

“Please do not talk to the hosts.” I received my door key from the automatic key box. I applied some perfumes to regain the invincible womanhood. “By the way, please use perfumes outside. We get migraines!” Reminded me kindly the welcome book.

I decided to move downtown. As I finally wiggled into the Lyft backseat, the driver asked, “How is your day?” “It is interesting.” I said.


Seattle is one of the biggest cities in the Northwest and the fastest-growing. The city rocked a 201 gloomy days in a year but attracted the most literate and young crowd.

Everyone is a migrant here. In fact, the aboriginals are often mocked as the “Mossbacks”, the turtles that grow algae on the back as a result of the continuous rains.

“Trump Out!”

As I received my oat matcha at Mr. West Cafe and scavenger hunted the info of Seattle, I suddenly saw the red lights and passionate marches on the street.

“Do not talk about Starbucks or Sleepless in Seattle. — But Seattle is an extremely liberal town. The city is tolerant for the liberals, not for the conservatives. And people love music, beyond trashy rocks.”


“You might know, my dad passed away in my senior year.” Ian said. From the same school as me on the East Coast, Ian had been a stubborn East Coaster.

Half the globe and one year and a half after, I heard the real stories. After his father passed away, his mother, who had a strained relationship with her son, snatched a job in Delaware, and left her son ramble aimlessly and become jobless after graduation. He was about to pursue a job offer with a medicare company in Wisconsin.

As he arranged housing and roommate in Wisconsin, he received an invitation from Amazon and interviewed in Seattle. The Friday after, the e-commerce giant confirmed his job offer.



On an unexpected day, you appear from anywhere. You are pure and mysterious, on the riverbank of Baikal.


Ian called off all of his arrangements to Wisconsin including his roommate.

He started with Amazon selling handbags.

A year later, the young graduate passed through 5 rounds of interview and landed his current job: the programme manager of Amazon AWS service, the expanding cloud-computing darling.  Now his job includes writing project proposals and meeting with big guns. The Eastern boy said he knew nobody when he just landed. It was his first time fighting off in an unknown city.

“I was not a human when I got here. I was a piece of shit.”


He had met this elder guy, whose boyfriend is in London for 2 months. The man is an artist, who produced arts from the “playroom”. Ian walked me through a few pictures of the game tools, and a garment he wore to Halloween: a one-stop zipped black jumpsuit that travels the body in one pull.

Hearing that I restarted my 10-year writing habit, Ian smiled; wrinkles of his eyes extended beyond, like the weeny strings made of matcha powder. Ian said he might want to pick up writing, but he was learning some guitar. He might not write porno, but he was content with his Seattle beau. Th elder lover gave him knowledge in relationship and sex, and also inspired him of life. Ian said he is still young, much is await.

I hope he is happy. He looks happy. After all the turmoils, sunshine flips over. Forget about the rains, his creativity deserves the journey.


*Fifty Shades of Grey was shot in Seattle. We also talked about Titanic and how his man painted models in the “game room”. I said why a woman can be painted nude but not a man?

*Ian has acquiesced the publishing of this piece. Thank you Ian.

I also translated the article and moulder into a Chinese version, published through female business lifestyle digital mag, TopHer.


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