Nick Lopez had reasons for moving to Seattle. “I’m in this city to work on my art. I paint and I write. I’m forming my new voice.”
He’d been living in Eugene, Oregon. “I was hanging out with Zane Kesey, the Merry Pranksters. There’s a bunch of artists associated with that group. They gave me confidence. I started selling my paintings and making a little bit of money.
“I had a fiancée. The big love of my life. That ended. My fiancée gave me my cat back, and if he didn’t run off on me, I’d probably still be in Oregon. With the resources I have, I was like, ‘just go there and make it.’
“I stayed in Portland, but that was part of my homelessness — it’s worse than here. I had some friends who wanted to travel around. Long story short, we were here and I couldn’t handle being in the car with them anymore.”
Making his way around Seattle wasn’t easy. Nick has used a wheelchair since he was a kid. “I have brittle bones. I broke my legs 32 times before I was 12. I was home taught and then decided to go to high school for the experience. Got immersed into lots of people. Developed social skills. That’s when I learned to start racing around really fast. I was called ‘Speedy.’”
Nick researched Seattle to make sure the bus system would be adequate transportation. “I push myself. I keep fit, because I don’t get an electric wheelchair.”
“I was on the streets for two months. I tried staying in the downtown DESC at Third and James.” He felt safer on the streets because his wallet was stolen, which still affects him. “I don’t have an ID. I’m halfway to getting it back. I have my birth certificate now.”
DESC (the Downtown Emergency Service Center) transferred him to their Queen Anne location. “I can go there and be comfortable.”
Nick heard about Real Change just at the end of last year while at the Compass Center in the same block. A Real Change vendor walked by Nick and said, “There’s coffee around the corner!”
“‘Free coffee! I’ll check the place out.’ As soon as I come in, it’s already too good to be true. I have experience in sales and I like engaging with the public. I was learning more about the paper. Then I started reading it, and it’s actually pretty good. There is a super-friendly side to Seattle. There’s a lot of good positivity. When people see you trying, they just reward you for it.
“It can be really simple or just amazing. I’ve had some people come up and just have these super mind-cracking conversations.” This makes a big difference with Nick, who marvels to himself, “Wow, I just connected with somebody on a super deep level.”
Nick says his plan for the future is to be successful on his terms: getting his writing published, getting his art in a gallery, getting an apartment and making enough money so he can move to Montreal or another one of the cities where he meant to end up. “But I see great potential here.”
Nick Lopez is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
Read the full Jan. 8-14 issue.
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