I stopped working for a handful of reasons but two of the simplest were to spend more time with family, and more time out of California. I’d noticed that even at a great company with plenty of flexibility/vacation time, I kept wishing for more time away than I could swing with a 9-5 position. I started wanting to see family for weeks, not days, and during a regular old time of the year vs. the more frenetic holidays. Everyone was healthy, my parents were retiring, Aaron would be off for the summer -the timing seemed right. So the plan hatched to spend time with Aaron in New York, and later, a few weeks back ‘home’ in Seattle, in the peak of the Northwest Summer.
Naturally, this would be a tradeoff, as much of life is: give up an income, gain lots of freedom to be with people you love. I figured it’s a good trade, getting paid in experience and reflection and adventure and quality time. Surely one can pay rent and buy Christmas presents off that!
(I can already picture the scene in December if I show up empty-handed:
Me: Do we really need to give gifts this year? We had so much quality time together, isn’t that better than gifts? That’s why this year it’s not about presents, it’s about presence. (Perturbed silence by family). Oh. So you still want REAL presents. Okay, um, here’s a collage I made from old business cards and office supplies… merry Christmas?)
I guess we’ll figure out the Christmas thing later. For now though, July and August brought 15 wonderful days in Seattle with a little family vacation in between – the longest I’ve been in Washington since 2007. Being on the other side of the trip, the time was nothing but worth it. For the first time in years, there was no thought of work in the back of my head, which seemeed to make the interactions sweeter, more present. And with the luxury of being in Seattle for more than a long weekend or a holiday week, it was enough time to settle in, look around and reflect on what it means to be ‘home’ even after a decade away.
Seattle, and moreso, Redmond – a relative love letter to a Place:
For better or worse, you hold all the good and hard memories of ages 3-18, and that’s a lot of responsibility for a single locale. After all, you’re the backdrop for every childhood dentist visit, every awkward preteen moment, every fight with my parents, every after-school job – the time before you start to understand who you are and make peace with that person. It all happened here, and when I see you again, I can’t help but think back to those times and the feelings therein, a growing-up life framed by Education Hill and evergreen trees.
In some ways it seems a gift to live in the same city your entire childhood, but because that same small radius holds all those memories, returning feels like a time-travel backwards: inherently a bit uncomfortable, not because you aren’t filled with wonderful people, but because I think life has gotten better and clearer after I left, as the transition to adulthood allowed time to grow into it, gain more tools to handle it, acquire more perspective to appreciate it.
But I can’t deny that you’ve grown and changed so much since 2004, and as a place, there’s much more to you than the place I remember growing up, the place I saw through my 18 year old youth eyes. I can’t claim to know the newer you all that well, but you seem to have much more energy and beauty than I remember. Maybe I don’t give you enough credit, putting my teen baggage on you instead of seeing you for the place that you are, beautiful in your own right, and a backdrop to so many people I care about.
Being ‘home’ again these two weeks, I’ve seen that there’s still quite a lot here to love:
I love how beautiful it is to drive on I-5 South cutting through the city and seeing the lake, the hills, downtown. Sometimes I wonder how this place is real, even living here so long.
I love how obsessed everyone is with the Seahawks, how traditions like “blue Fridays” give a sense of community and belonging that feels so much more meaningful than you’d expect from football.
I love how excited my Dad gets when he sees bunnies in our neighborhood.
I love the dichotomy of decades-old friendships and brand-new connections; the funny feeling of being welcomed both as an old-timer and a newcomer into various circles of relationships.
I love leaving the bedroom window open so you wake up to fresh air and only see evergreen trees behind the house.
I love how Victors Coffee is full of delicious teen moments like cramming for the SATs, deciding on college, discussing high school relationships.
I love spending time with my parents at the kitchen table or on the back porch, drinks in hand, getting to know them as a fellow adult.
I love that you can walk for fifteen minutes from our church and end up at Lake Sammamish.
I love the excuse of “I’m not here for long” to visit Molly Moon’s ice cream as much as possible.
I love seeing people you’ve known for ten or twenty years, who feel like family, who welcome you with open arms no matter how many years have passed. It’s gracious and humbling when people give you the time of day even though you’ve been absent for so long.
I love when you catch a glimpse of the Space Needle and it feels like you spotted something rare and beautiful even though it’s ever-present. I love how one object can so powerfully symbolize the essence and heart of a city.
I love forcing my Dad to watch one of the TV shows I like and then hearing him laugh louder than I do.
I love how much my Mom loves beer and the M’s. My oh my is her appreciation per inch of her stature off the charts.
I love how a place can still feel like home after 10 years away.
So Seattle, and moreso, Redmond – thanks for two very, very good weeks.