I went home Saturday. No, not for a visit as in times past. But home to live.
For those who are new here, home is Seattle. I was born there. Up until eight years ago, it was the only place I had ever lived, well, outside of that one month I lived in San Mateo, California with Psycho.
Some of my friends in Florida think I’m nuts to move back to the Pacific Northwest where for large parts of the year, it is gray, drizzly, damp and cold. After all, where I was, it’s sunny some 200 days a year. People retire in Florida for a reason. I see all the snowbirds flocking down here every October to escape the elements in the North. And yet, I couldn’t wait to go home.
It’s not that I don’t like Florida. The people are great there. I stared at the beach all day. I watched manatees play in the river. I sat at home and made stuff up, people sent me checks. Indeed, it seemed like one long vacation from the world, and in many ways it was. It was an escape, not a move made with any forethought. No one in their right mind heads off cross-country chasing strange tail. I was nuts.
I am better now. I realize that Florida never was my home. It was the place I lived and worked, but it wasn’t home. Again, it’s not Florida’s fault. True, I missed the mountains. Even though I’m not sporty or outdoorsy, I like seeing them on the horizon, gleaming, pristine and majestic. As we know, there’s no mountains in Florida, at least any that weren’t made by Disney.
What will I miss most about Florida? The sun? The fun? The beaches? the sun?
None of the above. I will miss the people I’ve met. That’s it. But to be fair, I’ve missed the people in Seattle, too. There are other things I’ve missed.
Obviously, the weather isn’t one. I’m not necessarily looking forward to days and yes, weeks of drizzle and gray, though it’s been sunny since I arrived. I never wore a coat in Florida. I don’t even think I owned one. But I know I’ll need one in Seattle. I’ll need more than one pair of jeans too. I won’t need as many pairs of shorts, that’s for sure.
But I have missed the hubbub of the big city. There is an energy to it that I lacked in Florida all these years. Even Orlando doesn’t have the vibe Seattle has. I think the difference is that Seattle for the longest time was isolated. At one time, believe it or not, there was no grunge, no Starbucks, no microbrews… we didn’t even have a sports team until 1976.
While newcomers don’t really understand what Seattle was like before it became a big city, I still do. And yes, I know it’s changed. I haven’t been gone that long. But the soul of the area remains. People in Seattle are far more Bohemian than they are in Florida. Marching to the beat of your own drummer is still the norm here. Just go to the Fremont parade, hang out at the Market, or just people watch on any street corner. There is amazing diversity is everywhere.
For my Florida friends who haven’t been to the Northwest, Seattle is like one big renaissance festival. Every neighborhood is so different. You can wear what you like and people don’t judge you. There’s a lot of love in the air, partly I think because the people there are all high on life, nature, caffeine or drugs. Like a ren faire, people are friendly. In fact, people are far more friendly than I remember them being.
In my absence, some things have indeed changed. I miss the Viaduct. A few of my old haunts are gone, as are some of the places I once lived. Traffic is marginally worse than it used to be, but not as bad as people here think it is. They should try Miami sometime. It will be weird living on the Seattle side again. Even before I came here I lived over on the Kitsap Peninsula where it’s still 1985.
On the flip side, there have been some major improvements. No, I’m not talking about light rail or any of that granola, tree hugging stuff. I’m talking about things like Trader Joe’s, the liberalization of the liquor laws, the renaissance of South Lake Union, SLUT, parking meters that use credit cards, and now they’re adding a 175 foot ferris wheel on the waterfront – how cool is that?
And some things don’t change. The Mercer Mess is still a mess. They still haven’t done anything with the waterfront, Aurora Avenue is just as seedy as ever, Dicks and Kidd Valley still serve up to die for burgers, you can still kill an entire day at the Locks for free, and Mt. Rainier is as beautiful as it always has been, at least on the few days you can see it. And yes, the scones are still yummy at the Puyallup Fair, even though they are a little bit smaller than they used to be.
I want to thank my friends for their patience as I’ve come to my senses. I know that many of you thought I was whacked for coming to Florida for a certain love gone wrong. You were right on that account. But I wouldn’t have traded it for the world because of the many great people who’ve come into my life there. I can’t say I will miss Florida, but I will miss my friends.
With that, I say so long to another chapter in my life. Florida is now in the rearview mirror of my mind, growing fainter by the minute as I move on down the road.
In the Emerald City once more,