I actually kind of hate these kinds of lists. I feel like they logically take into account a lot of very great reasons for why one should chose a person, place, or thing but sometimes the emotional element that is present is lost.
With that said, I’m still going to try to create one and in the process try not to offend anyone that lives in this city that has grown fairly near and dear to my heart.
What you need to know.
As of August 5th, 2013 I’ll have lived in Seattle metro for 8 years. I moved here with my partner in 2005 because she ultimatumed my ass into moving here. The “you move with me or I leave you” scenario. Though I wasn’t crazy about her, I still made the move because I knew part of me was still crushing on Washington’s landscape. Every time I passed a bush, tree, or any greenery whatsoever in California, I thought “oh… Washington, you have so many more of these.” (I suppose I could almost list this as a pro, my past crush on this state, though… we know crushes don’t always go the way we want them to once they turn into a real relationship)
The landscape – holy fuck Seattle is gawd damn beautiful when it’s sunny. Even when it’s not sunny, this place can make a grown woman cry just because of its majesty. Have you seen the snow-capped tip of Mt. Rainier on a gorgeous day peeking out from the South? What is that shit? Amazing! Have you crossed over any bridge here and looked out at the neighboring islands, other bridges, ferries, circling birds, waterfront? It’s hard not to get all high on life when you see it because it kind of stops your heart then starts it all over again. If you’re a Seattle lifer this is probably one of the main reasons you’re staying here.
The music scene – Granted, I haven’t tried the music scene in many cities, but I can tell you that I grew up as a musician here at the ripe age of 28. Yeah, I’ve only technically been a musician for 5 years now, but it’s been the best five years I possibly could have imagined. I think some people might think the scene is too cliquey and loose, but for a person going from playing nothing to at least being able to pluck out real songs on multiple instruments, maintain a fairly popular Seattle band, and write her own music, this is one of the best places I can imagine for support. Other cities (obviously I’m not in them) just seem a little more hostile and less likely to let someone with the least talent step up and become something. I’m so lucky to have begun my journey as a musician here.
The Ethiopian food – I happen to live right off of Martin Luther King and Cherry in the Central District in an area often referred to as the Ethiopian district. Can I tell you how good this shit is? I hadn’t actually discovered Ethiopian food until I went on a really mediocre date about 4 years ago, but since then, me and Ethio have been pretty inseparable. There’s a place across the street from me called Ras Dashen (one of the 6 on my block) that just the other day actually made me fresh authentic injera because I didn’t want the shitty gluten kind. You don’t know what delight is until you get fresh injera and a huge veggie combo to sop up with it.
My friends – my friends are fucking awesome. If you think your friends are awesome, I’m super happy for you, but I will always believe mine are better. They have brought me through some rough times with soft and tough love. I lurv them so much that I think they might actually be what’s hardest about leaving this damn place. Granted, it took me a while to build up a strong, wonderful group of friends (which I’ll complain about in cons) but once I got them they are definitely my rocks when I’m in hard places and good places. In general I’m in a good place.
The coffee – This is the birthplace of coffee. It’s hard for me to believe it could get any better anywhere else except for maybe some places in Europe (wink wink Italy). In all honesty it probably can’t. Stumptown, Vita, Victrola, Vivace, and yeah… I drink Starbucks and it’s because I worked there for something like 7-8 years (it grew on me). When I went to New York a few years ago I walked into a Dunkin Donuts and was given the evil eye for not wanting cream and sugar. I will miss the good coffee.
The weather – it’s killin’ me smalls. I am currently in a haze of passionate love with the sun right now because this summer doesn’t even feel like living in Seattle, but… I still know what’s in store right around the corner, some dreary dreary fucking clouds! Not rain y’all, but clouds! I actually like rain, but I swear for how much people complain about it here, it’s less rain and more just overcast skies that feel like they’re weighting down my soul sometimes. I want more sun! Okay… yeah that’s gonna change the quality of the music I write (I wrote a really sappy happy pop song the other day) but I think I should just get in touch with that side for a while.
The “freeze” – I know people hate when “outsiders” complain about this, but it’s for real. It’s haaaaard to make friends here unless you are the most outgoing person on the planet. You have to be pushy here to get more than one hangout with potential new friends but the problem is that people here hate pushy people because it offends their sensibilities. To this day I have maybe 4 friends in my pocket that are actually from Washington because it’s just a totally different way of being. I mostly attribute this to the gray skies keeping people indoors and letting them brood a little too much. I have had the opportunity to meet all kinds of great people while the sun is out on the streets of Sea town and it’s been great, but what I know is that once that sun is gone, so goes the town back to staying indoors and shutting out new friendships.
The dating scene – Holy heezbees, this scene is just… more difficult that it should be or has to be. Everyone here, guys and girls, are always complaining about how terrible it is, yet no one does anything about it. A crush on someone takes like 4 months to
play out into the first date. People don’t say what they mean, are terrified about getting hurt, and are just not willing to go out of their comfort zone.
People often ask me if it’s actually better in other places? Umm… yes, yes it is actually. In other places people actually talk to one another and ask each other out even if they might get “rejected.” How many of your friends do you know have said the same thing about the scene here? I bet you can think of more than a few.
The lack of diversity – another thing that brings me down. Just in case you haven’t noticed, let me tell you… I’m African-American. Well… technically I’m only 33% black 66% mix of all kinds of whiteness according to my DNA test, but I can’t get around the fact that I will always be identified as black. I miss living in a community of Latinos, African-Americans, Asians, Europeans, etc. I like to have kind of a balance. I do have more of a balance living in the CD, but as soon as I venture out into other northern neighborhoods I quickly realize I’m the token black girl. Embarrassing on those days I forget I’m black and then get reminded when someone randomly decides to compare skin color.
Seattle, if you don’t know what our population looks like, take a look at this from the census as of 2010:
White – 69.5% Amer. Indian & Alaska Native – 0.8% Asian – 13.8%
Native Hawaiian & Other Pac. Islander – 0.4% Two or more races – 5.1%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) – 6.6% Black – 8%
Most of these People of Color reside south of Capitol Hill.
Sometimes I think this lack of diversity is also responsible for my dating misfortunes. Though interracial dating is getting evermore popular, it’s still not as big a thing in Seattle as in some other places. I can attest to the fact that I’ve been told multiple times by people, “I’ll sleep with you, but I couldn’t date you.” In reference to the fact that these people don’t want to take home a black lady to their momma.
Well that’s it for right now. I’m sure there are more things on the list, but I’ve got a variety of reasons for loving and disliking Seatown. I’ve gotta go try out some other cities, write some lists and see how those compare. Also, I need to give my heart a chance to miss this place a little and see if it’s still longing for it like it once used to.