Seattle: A New Life?

A trip, a decision, a potential change of life.

Three days.

Three days to make a decision on whether or not I want to move our family of five to Seattle.

Three days doesn’t seem like much.

My flights are booked, my AirBnB is secured, now I just need to finish packing for the five-day trip and figure out what I’m going to eat as a Celiac in a city I’ve never been to.

It all happened fast.

We evacuated from Hurricane Irma before it’s projected path ripped through our home in Florida. We caravanned with another family up to the Tennessee mountains. It was beautiful, off-the-grid and scenic — just like I remembered from childhood.

For the past few years I’ve been unable to be outside in the sun, or even in the shade. My skin feels like I’m standing too close to a Bonfire and remains sore, sometimes swollen, and splotched with red and pink for several days.

Before we got the Celiac diagnosis, we thought it was some rare blood disease called Porphyria because of the skin issue and sensitivities and the severe, constant abdominal pain. I was consuming gluten so frequently — in meats, dairy, in everything nowadays — I never noticed that it was the food that was causing my pain.

In Tennessee in the peak of fall heat, I re-organized the back of our van in the sun for an hour. My skin was a bit tender—normal for any fair-skinned person with limited sun protection—but, for the first time in years, it didn’t look like I was a healing burn victim.

It didn’t feel like I was a healing burn victim, either.

We were shocked, delighted. And we took advantage of my newfound ability to be outside again, even if it was short-lived.

A couple days later we headed back toward home.

The roadways into Florida were in poor shape with all the downed trees, signs and debris, and the gas situation wasn’t worth risking the trip home either. So we got a hotel in Atlanta.

Even in Atlanta, the sun didn’t keep me from going outside. I didn’t push my luck by sun-bathing or anything like that—that was never an interest to an already fair person anyhow.

It was just refreshing to be able to be outside without feeling like a lobster dropping into a boiling vat.

A few days later, after the news that gas stations were getting fuel again and debris was being cleared from the roadways, we headed back home. We got gas once more in the south of Georgia to be safe.

I didn’t think much of it then.

We were about halfway to Central Florida when we needed to refuel. My husband took the dog out for a walk, and I opened the door to pump the gas. It was instantaneous. The ultraviolet rays burned up my forearm, my skin turned beet-red and small, pimple-sized bumps began to bubble haphazardly along my arms and chest.

I fought through it, refueled and hurriedly got back into the van.

When my husband met us at the front of the Shell convenient store, he could see I was uncomfortable.

I couldn’t be touched for days.

While in Atlanta, we joked about just picking up and moving there. We’d just rent out our house, furnished, and go.

We love cities.

We love the diversity, the sounds, even the smells. There’s so much for kids to do, for families, and me being able to tolerate the outdoors made it more appealing.

There are many more safe places to eat as Celiacs in cities, too.

Then came our sign: I can’t live a happy, active life in Florida.

A few years back we’d talked about moving to Seattle, when his brother and sister-in-law moved out there with their family. But at that time, the cost of living wasn’t feasible.

Now, it would be the cost of living to live.

So, I’ll spend two days of travel and three days of leisure, exploring the city of Seattle.

I’ll spend time with my lovely sister- and brother-in-law, and I’ll test my skin to the Seattle fall season.

If it’s a permanent skin condition, at least I’ll be able to live, happily.

If it’s not, we’ll get our wish: Living in a beautiful, active city with lots to do and see, lots to eat, great schools, and, I believe, a better life.

At least that’s what I’m clinging to.

I’m Sara Eatherton-Goff, a non-fiction and fiction writer, visual artist, and entrepreneur mom-person currently writing on Medium and other publications. Check out some of my collective works on my website, and join my Creative Community for a weekly update, story share, and more.