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.
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.
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.