Monday, December 20, 2010
Perhaps this is a love song for the city I call home today.
In college, I made a list of places I wanted to live - to help with the job search, of course. My list included: Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and Washington, D.C. I got pretty close to an offer in DC, and was on my way to one in Denver, when something worked out here in Seattle. That was 1998.
I've lived all over this city since then - starting from the sketchy neighborhoods near Sea-Tac airport convenient for my job, to the waterfront in Federal Way (south of the city), to a stretch in Tacoma/University Place, and now north of the city in a relative no-man's land that makes it convenient to get around. I've been a tourist, I've been a tour guide, I've been a newbie and I've been a local. And I haven't even scratched the surface of this amazing city.
There are museums I haven't been to, concerts and a music scene that I've barely forayed into. There are gorgeous parks I've never seen. There are areas I still want to explore - I'd love to eat in every restaurant in Wallingford - and breweries I've yet to go to.
This city of beer and independence, of scorn of corporations and love of liberal angst, this city has a place for everything, from up and coming art and music, to established venues that are still able to stay new and cutting edge. There are dive concert joints to get lost in the darkness of, holding a unique drink and listening to music you know someday will be known broadly, if not commercially.
I love the familiarity here. Growing up as a military brat, I have attempted to call several places "home" throughout my life, but now, nothing holds a candle to this city in the emerald green of the Pacific Northwest. For a nomadic child, the discovery of a home is a powerful, emotional thing.
There are the football tickets, and the tailgating with friends so wonderful they are worth standing outside in the 7 degree weather with whipping wind, or in 42 degree pissing rain for 4 hours.
Pike Market - the scene, the flavors, the shops. Market Spice tea and Piroshkies, or a Dungeness crab salad at the Athenian. Belltown and Fremont and Ballard. The ride around Mercer Island that I still haven't done. The view of the city from the ferry as we escape to another island, even if just for a few hours.
Gosh, Victoria and Canada, and can you believe I've lived here since 1998 and never been to Whistler? I've been dying to discover more about Vancouver, go run in Stanley Park and drink my way through the Gaslight District. Yes, there is no shortage of newness and adventure right here in our own back yard. But no. It is not THE Adventure. They are mini adventures. And yes, every place we consider will also have mini adventures.
There are things I'm sort of ashamed to admit about myself as well - this yen for adventure can be a lot of bark while I'm safe in my comfort zone, and I've made every effort to make it as comfortable as possible. I can't tell you how much I love my friends here, the things we do, our ability to get together, have traditions year over year.
The nomadic child in me can get woken up - I've kicked her awake in the last few months, and she stirs, knowing she can enjoy a lot of places, and that the things she loves about Seattle may not be the same elsewhere, but that it will be fun to find those things, and to appreciate the differences. She reminds me also, that as much as anything is permanent, so too would be our move away. It would be no more permanent than anything - lasting only until our next move, and there will be a next move as we execute on "the Plan".
Staying here means more rain, and darkness, two things grating on our psyche. Rain slickers on the bike and always being in search of truly waterproof and truly warm biking gloves. Staying here means knowing intimately all the details ad requirements to purchase lights for one's bike to see the path when biking in the dark at 3pm. Or running. In the dark. At 3 pm. Staying here means opting out of the adventure.
Staying here means being able to finally live here, as two human beings, as opposed to one human and one grad student (and it may be that only grad students and their significant others know what this really means, but trust me, there is a big difference). It means we can both have jobs, incomes, and the time to do the things we have wanted to do over the last 7 years but not been able to because of the incessant and insidious demands of school.
Staying here means keeping our house, no hassle of moving - and all the financial benefits that come along with it. Staying here means we can still go to the lake, still spend time with Mamo Mary while we have it, still watch our dog run on the beach with Sonnie and Yeti while she still can. Somehow, the thought of leaving makes it all too real just how short the years we have with those we love are. Staying means more time, no matter how you cut it.
Staying means I can stay working where I am, and I can see my teammates more often. Staying means that if I decide to move on from this job, I have a built in network to leverage for my next career step.
Staying means continuing to better myself in my favorite triathlons and other races - and yes I suppose this is negligible up against bettering myself AND discovering NEW races, but it's still something I'm looking forward to. Staying means home improvement and the money available to do it - hardwood, new appliances (DISHWASHER!), painting, new sofa.
Staying means giving up the other possibilities...all the dreams and thoughts and adventures we were getting so excited about, from surfing in California to exploring the New England coast and Harvard Yard and everything in between. Staying means it's easier to visit Dad, but less convenient to go to Europe. Staying means some friends will leave us to go on to new adventures.
Nothing stays the same. Staying can't mean keeping things the same, and I have to say, that's not at all what I want. I want to dig in more, continue to branch out.
Seattle, you are making this a tough decision.