So I’m leaving. Leaving Seattle. This place I love. My first big decision as a bona fide adult was to leave my Midwestern hometown and move to Western Washington. I don’t love this area any less today than I did when I flew into Seatac as a fresh-faced 18-year-old with big dreams.

My freshman dorm

Sometimes when people ask me where I grew up, my immediate thought is Bellingham, my college town. I did a lot of growing there. I had so many eye-opening experiences. My hometown, Lakeville, Minn., is 94 percent white. Most families are middle to upper-middle class. Most of my friends had both parents in their lives.

In college, I suddenly found myself in hippie town. People had dreadlocks. A group of students on campus didn’t wear shoes. Ever. People who ordered their lattes with soy milk. WTH is soy milk? And how is a latte different from a cappuccino again?

I found myself surrounded by people with varied upbringings. People who bought real bricks of cheese, not the Kraft singles I grew up with. People ate tofu and beans. There was not a tator-tot hot dish in sight. People who had pot on them all the time … and were willing to share. I remember trying to hide my surprise during a newsroom conversation about what meds people were on. Wait, more than half of the people I work with every day were on antidepressants? Who knew!

After graduation, I packed up my humble belongings and moved to a studio in Olympia. My heart broke. I would’ve given anything to stay in Bellingham, but I had nothing to give. I had a newly printed journalism degree, $28,000 of student loan debt and next to nothing in my checking account. Someone in Olympia was actually going to pay me to write? Better go! But I hated Olympia. I went to the boyfriend’s place every chance I got. But I started my professional career there, and I’m grateful for that.

Next up was Bremerton, home to the Navy shit ship yard, and a cool job in Seattle, a two-hour commute away. But I felt like I’d made it. Awesome live-in boyfriend, a job on a highly visible website and some cool friends who reminded me so much of my university buds. But the commute wore on me. I did my best to make Bremerton my home, but it always felt like a temporary stop. I so longed to stay in Seattle each night rather than run to the boat home.

Some of those awesome friends.

Then I got my wish. Seattle finally! I love my North Seattle neighborhood. I love the people enjoying the coffee shops and pubs. I love the tree-lined streets by the zoo. I love the people getting their outdoor gym on at Green Lake. Rain or shine, people are working out. This place makes me so happy. I fit here.

But I also love New York. I didn’t want to leave on my recent trip. I so enjoyed walking the streets, blending in with the crowd, ducking into coffee shops. As I was sitting in a Dean & Deluca near MoMA, I realized I needed to be there.

I need to make New York part of my story and I want to be part of its story. And when I fly into LaGuardia as a 30-year-old, I’ll have my two suitcases and cash for the cab fare to Midtown. I won’t be moving into a dorm room with a girl from Sumner, Wash., I’ll be rooming with strangers familiar with the city. I won’t be looking forward to English 101 and Intro to Psychology, I’ll be checking the subway schedule for the train to NYU.

Holy crap! At least I now speak the language of coffee fluently.

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2 thoughts on “Finishing the Seattle story

  1. Don’t forget that your Seattle story is not quite over my dear friend. You will be back, we know it in our hearts. And, in the meantime, you are going to be missed more than you could know!

  2. Love this post.

    Ha, now you’re fluent in coffee language. Next up? Subway fluency. 🙂 When I visit, we will definitely need to find a fun cafe and just sit, drink and gab.

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