Spring In Seattle — September Competition

My not-so-wet sojourn in the Pacific Northwest.

Photo by Ishaan Kansal on Unsplash

Honestly, the best holidays I’ve had have been in my mind. The places I’ve gone to in my dreams have been far, wide, and tinged with sleepy familiarity despite never having stepped foot there. My mental wanderlust is insatiable, but my literal travels have been a bit more limited. The one I consider the best so far is my trip to Seattle, seeing family, but meeting a city.

This vacation was less about the company and more about the environment. Like many, I had an image of what that part of the world looked like. Rain-soaked cities embedded in lush forests that reach mountaintops and stop at the foot of Pacific waters. What I came upon was half that and half something else. It only rained once while we were there, but I’ve since spent years responding to people asking if it had whenever I mention I’ve been. The number of questions I’ve had about the rain in relation to any actual rain I experienced far outweighs it. Goes to show you how pervasive certain clichés and perceptions can go.

My mother and I arrived and had some time before our hotel room was ready. We took this opportunity to walk around and stretch our plane-scrunched legs. Somehow, we managed to find a modestly priced place within the heart of Seattle, so we took to the streets that wrapped around the Space Needle, and museums, and other sites of significance. There was no pressure to be the best tourists we could be right then, we were just two travellers making the most of their time before the real obligations of the trip rolled in.

Technically, we were there because my cousin was graduating, but we took it as a chance to set some more time aside to truly explore the area more. Those first few days were my favorite of the entire trip. The best of the best holiday, if you will. It was just my mom and I figuring out the city, taking little journeys around it, and discovering how easy that felt to me. I felt like I fit with this city. We visited some funky art and made even more funky faces at an interactive exhibit. We were flung to the top of the Space Needle in seconds and got to survey the entire city like we were mighty adventurers discovering new lands.

I quickly learned that hills were king here despite their greatest efforts at urban planning. I had no idea before going there that some of their roads could rival San Francisco’s. My ignorance in many places was falling away and I loved that, to travel is to learn. My education continued as we sloped down said hills into Pike Place, absorbing the traditional tourist spot while trying to remain chill about it. News flash, I am not a chill person, I peeked around every corner of that market to make sure I could have a mental snapshot of it all so I could revisit how it felt to be there whenever I liked.

Photo by Ben Dutton on Unsplash

Soon enough we were off to Tacoma, met up with family, and attended the graduation. I enjoyed how close the cities were so you could have two trips in one, essentially. This leg of the vacation was more scheduled and built around things that needed to be done, but at least we were doing it within a gorgeous landscape. The rides to the school, or my cousins’ new place, or even just out to dinner were all enveloped by calm waters, bright sunsets, and wooded enclaves. The beauty had no choice, but to stand out.

Remember I said it rained only once when I was there? Yeah, that occurred smack dab in the middle of the graduation ceremony. A torrent of water poured down, apparently more than anyone had ever seen, and we all scurried inside to dry off like fancily dressed rats. The worst timing ever, yet I think most people took it in stride. The perfectly imperfect timing of it all was rather hilarious, and I think only added to the ceremony being a special one, certainly one for the memory books.

During my time in the Pacific Northwest, I stayed at three different hotels, went to about six different attractions, ate at several diverse restaurants, and attended one washed-out graduation. The statistics don’t do it justice though. We all know holidays are not all about the mechanics of what you do, it’s about the experience, the disruption of routine, and adding some colorful layers onto your life. So many revelations have been had while simply sitting by the seaside. I, too, felt a similar sensation in particular on the roof of my first hotel there.

It was a smaller one compared to the giants I would stay at later in the trip, but there was a comfort in its simplicity. Directly to my left was the bustling metropolis, but to my right was Elliot Bay. The cool air would drift from the water and gently blow over me, an advantage of being at that lower height. It would awash my face in the waning sun, letting my senses take over, and setting me at ease. It’s not a mindset to arrive at freely when you’re a chronically anxious person, but there I felt it, and I still have yet to forget. When I think of Seattle, when I think of what makes a holiday the best, and when I think of the strongest memories I hold onto, I think of that rooftop. Suddenly, I realize nothing in my mind beats this.

Photo by José Ignacio Pompé on Unsplash

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Charlie Cole

Charlie Cole

Writer • Photographer • Editor • Champion Overthinker • She/Her • Twitter: @CharlieTheCole

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