Yesterday on my lunch break from work, I was cruising through South Seattle on my way to this amazing Japanese Burger joint called Katsu Burger when I got the first brief, fleeting thought that I had become comfortable here. I was driving along E. Marginal Way which hosts the enormous Boeing Plant where some of the world’s biggest and most impressive airplanes are made. I was a little freaked out because my entire drive past the Boeing plant took me through about seventeen green lights. Why didn’t Seattle want to slow me down? I decided that was pretty cool and drove fifteen miles over the speed limit, got my burger and went back to work.
I moved here eight years ago from Texas, an awful place no one should ever be forced to live. The Army had brought us here and we were excited because everyone always talked about how badly they wanted this duty station so we assumed it must be pretty cool. I didn’t expect that my life journey was going to end here far differently than it began. I arrived married to one man in a militant environment of law and structure and now I’m married to another man and life couldn’t be more opposite. I never assumed that this would be “home”. Ever.
I’ve lived all over the place. Different states, different countries, different continents. Home for me has always been the Gulf Coast, no matter where we were actually residing. Born in the Midwest and raised in he south and then planted in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve seen every inch of this country.
The Gulf will always have my heart. To a degree, it will always be home to me… Critters and flying cockroaches and sweltering heat, humidity that sticks your clothing to your body in obnoxious ways, shrimp and crawdads and sand, sand, sand. At night you hear frogs and crickets. During the day people move slowly, speak slowly, tranquilized by the heat. People stop trying to grow grass on their lawns and the smell of salt in the air gives you what little energy you have. Every day at precisely three o’clock, the heat breaks with flashes of lightning in the sky, the Gulf being the lightning capital of the world. Three blocks up the road you can see the rain beating down in a fury, desperate to cool the world off for just fifteen minutes a day. Then, the sun breaks through a deep blue and purple sky and the outside feels like the inside of an oven again. Literally, an oven. It can take your breath away.
The Pacific Northwest is a different kind of place altogether after you’ve lived and loved the south. Up here it is energy and diversity. It is every place you could go to in one little corner of the US. Twilight fans flock to Forks to see where all those vampires and wolves lived dramatic lives. Forks here is nothing much more than beautiful rain forests. Yes, we have rain forests. We also have big metropolises, vast plains, mountains, volcanos, orchards, valleys, even a desert. In July you can go white water rafting on Saturday and snowboarding on Sunday. You can hit the beach or walk Seattle’s marketplace. Go fishing in the morning and to the museum after lunch.
All the clichés are true, you know.
You love trees and coffee here. We’re fiercely loyal to our football team and to our basketball team that we don’t even have here anymore. People wear sandals and recycle because they actually want to. Composting HAPPENS. Everyone has a fire pit and if you don’t own an ATV then you have a friend who owns an ATV. What is a “Hummer?” Why would anyone actually drive that?
Yes, it rains. A lot. You learn how to drive at 70 miles per hour on the freeway without actually being able to see the lines in the road because the rain blurs them as it bounces off the pavement. Nine months out of the year. I freakin’ love it. Good ol’ Washington sunshine.
We’re a fairly peaceful people up here. In fact, when bad things happen, you see a lot of running jokes about how “Seattle riots”. People rebel by wearing their sandals without socks, or *gasp* jaywalking. Marijuana is legal here and the world didn’t instantaneously implode. Meth is the big killer here. Meth should just die.
My state is home to some pretty big companies…. Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nintendo, Nordstrom… and we love our music. Jimi Hendrix, Mackelmore, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sir Mix-a-lot… at the base of the Space Needle is the EMP, a music museum that is interactive and amazing. The Space Needle is the only thing in Seattle that I truly loathe.
The Space Needle sways.
I hate the Space Needle.