November 27, 2013

Thanks, Seattle

If Seattle and I were married, this would be the year we took our relationship to counseling. Maybe it’s the reality shock of post-graduate life, maybe I miss the friends who’ve moved away, or maybe it’s an indication that ultimately we aren't meant to be, but whatever I’m running up against has put me in unfortunate tension with this city.

If I’m sad and moody, it’s because of the rain. When I’m not connecting with anyone, I blame the passive-aggressive, I-can’t-see-you-because-my-laptop-screen-slash-umbrella-is-in-front-of-you social norm. On the days I feel passionless, directionless, and zapped, I seethe at the Space Needle: METROPOLITAN POSER! You call yourself a city?! Pfshaa!

And then there are days when I’m driving home from work and I catch sight of the lake sparking against maple trees and Mount Rainier. I work on a film set for a day and feel a warm energy at having at last discovered “my people.” I snuggle up at the end of the night with the best roommate anyone could ask for and –

– and I still find reason to complain.

So today, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m going to take stock of all the wonderful things I often fail to acknowledge about Seattle. The things that, for me, make it a wonderful place to be.

1) The Yuppie Buzz of Downtown

I'm in earnest here. I love how the main part of downtown Seattle is a total Wall Street. Not that you don't get your standard vagrants, tourist families, and middle-class commuters as well, but most of the energy around the Nordstrom/Pike Place/Westlake Center/Four Seasons Hotel zone centers around people who make money there, then go right outside and spend it. Maybe it's because it gives me space to dream, but I love how as soon as I go downtown I feel like I'm getting away with something -- like Kevin McCallister in the Plaza hotel or Ferris Bueller at the stuffy French restaurant ("You're Abe Froman? The Sausage King of Chicago?") It's the only time that not belonging makes me feel thrilled instead of miserable.

2) The Love Triangle of Queen Anne

This is definitely subjective to my own experiences, but I have three great loves in Queen Anne, and I recently realized they form a triangle. The first is (was) Easy Street Records. It has since shut down (Thank god there's another in West Seattle), but whenever I pass the corner near Metro Market, I think of all the fun I had freshman and sophomore year browsing through LPs. At that point in my Seattle timeline, I had zero concept of the city layout, and Queen Anne might as well have been a different town. That's what reading on the bus will do to you.
Second point of the love triangle is McMenamins restaurant and Valley St, behind it. McMenamins was introduced to me by J around this time last year. It came after a couple months of toying with vegetarianism, so the burger I had there was out of this world. Next came the rediscovery of Ruby beer, which I first fell in love with on my beloved Portland spring break trip two years ago. On one McMenamins outing, J gave me a beautiful amber necklace, which quickly became one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. That same night I promptly lost the velvet box it came in and we drove all over Seattle to figure out where it had tumbled out of the car door. (We did find it in the end, on Capitol Hill.) Anyway, between this and the various post-show late night happy hours with theatre friends, this part of town always makes me giddy with adventure.
The third and final point of this somewhat oblong triangle is the Seattle Center Armory. What looks like a useless rectangle of brick represents all sorts of emotion to this girl, for it is where the majority of my auditions have been held. It's also where I got to perform at Book-It around Christmastime. I've walked in and out of the Armory doors bubbling with happiness, holding back tears, buzzing with nervous energy, brimming with confidence, and fuming with regret, but I know however I'm feeling I'll step outside and hear the fountain... see the Space Needle lit up... pass PNB and watch the dancers leaving class... and my world will become more beautiful.

3) My Work Commute

Although I could sing loudly, wear sunglasses, and crack the skylight of my car in just about any commuter city, there's something splendid about doing all three at once whist driving the curving boulevard along Lake Washington on a sunny day. With the lake sparkling, Bellevue glitzing across the water, and sometimes Mount Rainier popping out to say hello, an 8-hour office shift doesn't feel so bad.

4) Friends All Over

 One of the nice things about staying in the same town where you attended college is you're bound to have friends that stick around too. Since moving out of the U-District, I've found I can visit just about anywhere under the reasoning of seeing a friend -- Queen Anne, Wallingford, Greenlake, Eastlake, Capitol Hill, Ravenna, Mercer Island, Port Townsend, Kirkland, Sammamish, Tacoma, Bellingham... and then of course there's always Spokane and Portland -- my favorite getaway cities. It's nice to be able to count on a change of scenery every once in a while.

5) Really Amazing Seafood

I always forget about this until I'm somewhere inland. Seattle has awesome fish. Everywhere. A few nights ago J and I treated ourselves to a pricier meal at le Zinc, and the steelhead dish I ordered would've brought a French chef to his knees. Wherever you choose to eat here, you can typically count on an opportunity for good prawns or salmon. Fresh sushi was a regular meal option on the UW campus. It doesn't get much better than that.

6) Summers

 I can't bring myself to praise its rain or the "temperate"-but-actually-freezing-to-the-bone winters, but Seattle really has summer figured out. Scarcely soaring above 80 degrees, the sun is beautiful but survivable. You can go for a run without wanting to die, but still take a dip on the shores of Lake Washington without freezing. There are beaches, even if you'd be mad to swim in their waters, and there's always shade to be had for our vampire skin.

7) ... and Winters

Yes, there are aspects I loathe about winter over here -- the damp cold that soaks to the skin and stays there for six months, the depressing lack of snow -- but one of Seattle's winter fallbacks is actually also one of my favorite aspects: the city's inability to handle snow.
Now, sometimes this totally blows: if you have a job or class to get to and your boss/teacher is being a stubborn asshole (aka: not giving you the day off), there's no where I'd rather not be than on a Seattle freeway. If, however, the snow becomes so out of control that even transit shuts down (and yes, this happens) you have a metropolitan winter wonderland with no idea how to control itself. A Snopacalypse!
This is the stuff that clears the hills of cars and allows for sledding on greased cookie sheets after too many peppermint hot schnaplets. It provides you and your college friends a week off school (but not rehearsal, because we're ARTISTS, dammit) to celebrate the postponement of your final essays. It also closes down restaurants, drug stores, and movie theaters, but it will reawaken you to ugly sweaters, board games, and the real meaning of "Baby, It's Cold Outside." In Spokane, it's a miracle if you're granted a Snow Day. Here, it's a way of life I agree with 100%.

Well, Seattle, I hope this proves that deep down inside I still love you. We're may be in the throws of a not-quite-seven-year itch, but I think with proper communication, we can work it out.

And a few more snow days.

What do you love about Seattle? Share below!


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