A Love Letter to Seattle, a Mere Four Months In
Four months is not a particularly significant amount of time––especially to make a brand-new city feel like home. But it’s enough time to know that I am unequivocally enamored by Seattle, a place that was never on my radar before felicitous circumstance, and one that has already taken up notable space in my heart and mind and soul, in a way I truly never thought possible — the way New York did, I suppose. And maybe I am just starry-eyed, caught up in a hypnotizing honeymoon phase, or maybe I’m just relieved I can breathe again, but I can feel this part of the world in my bones already. I am comforted by the familiarity of a rousing, iconic downtown and concurrently bewildered by its proximity to the wild, which is a magical combination no matter where you are. And in four months, across two seasons, I have seen the sun rise and fall more than I’ve counted the signature grey and rainy days, and while potentially an atmospheric anomaly, it’s apparent that Seattleites harp on the coastal wetness in order to keep outsiders from falling hard for a place that is clearly meant for those who didn’t know how much they needed it.
I am in awe every single day I get to witness the Sound and the Olympics swallow the sun whole, and, on occasion, turn the sky into a hot-pink neon dream. I now know — after a life replete with both southern and eastern landscapes — that an apartment building facing West on the West Coast cannot be rivaled. I simply can’t fathom a better place to begin and end my day than on the tiny balcony built for one, eyes drawn to the direction of the sun, likely going blind as the days go on, grateful for the expansive and sublime nature-scape in front of me — a panoramic painting-come-to-life in my own living room. The Great Wheel, of course, is the centerpiece, glowing and flickering and spinning in all its glory outside of my window, making me feel like a VIP attendee at the most precious waterfront carnival. I get weepy every time such a crucial part of the Seattle skyline falls into my eyeline, and it takes every ounce of self-discipline not to post photos of it 14 times a day. The bay itself is enormous and small all at once and I could spend hours hoping to spot a harbor seal doing the backstroke while ferries trickle in an out and in and out, carrying everyone to and from even more gorgeous Pacific Northwest scenery. Sometimes, while lying in bed, just after pressing snooze for the ninth time, I’ll hear the seagulls chatting and cackling just beyond my reach, and I am instantly transported to a seafront milieu, where I am waking up in a quaint beach vacation home and not an 18-floor high-rise. There is nothing more thoroughly comforting than these sounds and this view and this entire dream-scape that feels like, well, the perfect escape.
The best surprise in Seattle is, by far, Mount Rainier. The first time I saw it, I was certain I was on another planet, in some other world ruled by commanding and transcendent volcanoes. It is so grandiose and alarming and magnificent, that if you’re not prepared to see it, it is powerful enough to take your breath away. I know this from experience. When you’re driving south down I-5 (or in my case, when my Uber driver is…), you come around a tight corner of the highway and Rainer smacks you right in the face. It’s 70 miles away, but it looks like you could drive right up the front of it if you just continue hurling toward the horizon. I imagine those who grew up around these wild and imposing natural wonders still marvel at them regularly, but as someone who is rooted in flat land, I can’t stop pinching myself, asking how something so stunning is just a very casual feature of this city, any city, my city. Rainier appears and disappears as it pleases — such a bold, admirable aesthetic for a mountain — and I don’t believe it’s possible to grow tired of the majestic mornings he steps out from behind the grey, glistening and dull at the same time, dominating the sky, punctuating the city, ruling over the land as intended.
I love that Seattle is a thriving, progressive, big city in the middle of the woods. I love that I can take deep, long, smooth breaths, whenever and wherever, and feel like I am inhaling the earth. I love that there are eclectic bars and tempting restaurants and art museums and a goddamn Target mere steps from my apartment. I love that I have crawled outside my comfort zone to make friends and prioritize new experiences and written like a motherfucker when the words needed freeing. I love that places like Discovery Park are a $10 Uber ride away, and that watching the tide roll in next to the lighthouse is now my favorite thing to do. I love the glow of the PUBLIC MARKET sign on the wet bricks down Pine Street. I love how you can watch the low and steady parade of planes flying in and out of Sea-Tac at any given moment. I love that I still haven’t figured out how to dress for the rain, and that I look like a murderous seaboat captain in a raincoat. I love that people stare at me like I’ve committed the highest crime when I impatiently cross the street at a red light. I love that The Daily Show comes on at 8:30. I love that I get to be awake when the East Coast is asleep. I love that I have so much more to discover and look forward to and learn––about this city and myself.
More than anything, I love that I’m not conflicted or emotional about having left New York behind––in this exact moment, at least. If the West Coast has forced a change upon me in such an abbreviated amount of time, it’s how to be ever-so-slightly more present. Sure, my phone is permanently glued to my hand, but I am surrounded by so much unbelievable beauty on a regular basis that I’d be a fool not to soak it up, breathe it all in, revel in it, as often as possible. I still feel like a high-strung, cautious, anxious, impatient East Coaster, but I know the softness of the Pacific Northwest will begin to sink its (gentle) teeth into me soon. I mean, I did just write an entire paragraph about a mountain.