In the words of Elf (Will Ferrell), “I’m in love! I’m in love! And I don’t care who knows it!”
My love affair with Seattle started with Day One of being here, homeless and couch surfing, and has only grown since. Some things that surprised me about this city, and soon after fed my desire to live here forever:
1. It’s much bigger than I realized, and it’s still growing massively. People often talk about Seattle in comparison to Portland – “Which is better?” The problem is that it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Because clearly Seattle is better. It holds a lot of the same values – people here respect the environment, have a general appreciation for the outdoors, gather in large gay/trans communities, and are welcoming of anything thought to be weird. But Seattle, in my opinion, resembles Portland in no way. In fact, given the recent rise in the tech community that actually threatens a lot of the artsy culture in neighborhoods like Fremont and Capitol Hill, a better comparison to make would be – Which is better, Seattle or San Francisco? If you’re looking to be able to afford where you live for the time being (costs are only going to rise here), Seattle is definitely better.
2. Cat calls are nonexistent. Okay, I shouldn’t say this, because street harassment is everywhere. I experienced it in Phoenix, in Austin, and yes (gasp!) even in Burlington (actually, a lot there). But let me tell you about my first experience of a “cat call” in Seattle.
It was my second day, and I was walking around the neighborhood of Madrona, just trying to get a feel for whether or not I wanted to live there. Further up the sidewalk, I see two very large black men, and we lock eyes. The man closest to me looks me up and down, and I know what’s coming. We get closer, I am just about to avert my eyes when I see the man opening his mouth to speak to me. And he says, “I love the pattern on your pants.” I grin ear to ear. Because these pants were only a day old, and point blank the pattern on them was amazing. Thanks for the appreciation, stranger. I officially loved it here.
3. Food and business here are local and no one is bragging about it. I know that it shouldn’t bother me when restaurants and businesses brag about being local, but it does. After a while of being in Burlington, the hype wore off and I felt that restaurants and businesses that had 3 signs on every wall stating that they were locally made, locally grown, locally sourced, etc. were doing so to brag to tourists, not the people who actually live there. And good, because people should know, and Burlington should be proud. But I personally admire that Seattle knows what it is and doesn’t yell about it, because nothing is more annoying to me than a place or person wearing a cause as a badge (making it about them) instead of just supporting it for the sake of contributing to goodness in the world.
4. Seattle gives a lot of shits about the trees. Not just the trees, but any natural land in general. Fun Fact: Whenever any natural area is going to be altered in any way, the city requires that the person or business altering that area post a “Notice of Proposed Land Use Action” for 60 days, inviting comments. So if the tree outside of your apartment building is going to be cut down, you will see a sign near or on it for 60 days and you may comment “I like this tree! I love it’s windy branches! I think it adds beauty to the neighborhood! This is where I had my first kiss and I don’t want it to go!” (Etc.) Isn’t that just… wonderful?!
5. Forget the Seattle freeze, I’ve made more friends here than anywhere else yet. I will admit that Austin is the overall friendliest place I’ve been so far. You’re more likely to strike up a conversation with the grocer or neighbor or whoever in Austin. But for young people, if you put yourself out there, meeting people here is easy and fun! There are many free events to attend (such as the weekly FREE WeWork happy hour open to the public that landed me my first friend and office space as a freelancer), and in that way it also remind me of Austin. So far in my stay here, I have enjoyed Restaurant Week, Beer Week, and soon, Made in Seattle Week!
In this way, the free/discounted events and festivals, as well as the rising tech community, remind me of Austin, while the environmental awareness and emphasis on remaining local remind me of Burlington. But Seattle is so much bigger, closer to the size of San Francisco. So, in all, if you were to mesh Austin, Burlington, and San Fran together, I think you’d find the beautiful child of wonder that is Seattle. And to me, nothing could be better.