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Anywhere but here…

July 27th, 2004 · 4 Comments

Lisa Williams this week wrote an elegant defense and description of her home state and also asked the question where would you live if you could live anywhere?

I’m not about to attempt an essay as eloquent and passionate as hers. But after Reading Seattle and living here now four years as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate more this state where I was born. It’s a strange two-headed creature. Cross the Cascades and you’ll find yourself in another land, with weather, economy and politics opposite of the West. How the two sides marry into the state called Washington and keep their relationship functional is a sensitive matter.

But I love this strange state. We have not one but two mountain ranges that can be viewed over a myriad number of bodies of water, lakes, rivers, sea. Got desert? Got farmland? Got volcanoes? Got rainforest? Got lakes? Got rain? Got sun? We’ve got them all in Washington, in contrast and in abundance.

Many of the people who call this place home, at least the area where I live, are not natives. We born-and-raised-Washingtonians can be a bit rare these days. I know I almost renounced my citizenship of this state. Come to think of it, I did. I escaped to college in exotic New England. I lived out East. I lived in California, an unimaginable fate when I was a Seattle girl.

When I married Ted, I felt I was giving up the Northwest. I figured I’d never get Ted to move to Seattle. He was an East Coast boy, used to snow and cold, a lover of ice-skating. And somehow I loved him, even though I thought it meant we’d never move back to the land I loved.

Somehow God worked out the details and I was only too happy to move up here a few years ago. I miss the sun. I miss the diversity of Silicon Valley. I miss my friends. But it’s hard to match what I have in my heart for this circle of land that surrounds Puget Sound.

It’s a land of abundance. The natives here were fat from the bounty. They only needed to reach into a river to grab a salmon. Food was plentiful. It is a blessed place.

Some might say that Seattle – Redmond in particular – has ruined the world. I disagree, even at the risk of offending my Open Source spouse. Seattle has been a base of creativity and invention and I think that has only increased as the area grew.

It was a land built by pioneers, seeking gold or a place of their own. It’s younger than East Coast culture, more malleable, flexible and casual. It changes fast. It seems to have changed a lot in my absence. But I still find what I love here.

I like walking on the beach. Seeing the sun set late on summer nights. Hydroplanes and Blue Angels in August. Sourdough bread and clam chowder. Salmon. Riding the ferry into Seattle. Skyscrapers reflected against the ocean. Sea anemones in the sand. The history. The hills. Washington State Apples. Seeing the forest for the trees, the tall cedars, hemlock and fir. The people who have lived here and who live here now, who have written down their dreams and hopes for this place, who have labored and made it home.

Now again it is my home. My childrens’ home. This place that Manifest Destiny made manifest has become my destiny, at least for now.

I can’t pretend this is Disneyland. It’s no Garden of Eden or perfect paradise. I have my complaints about this place. Sometimes I think I’d like to move back to Silicon Valley. Or I think I might like to live in Boston. The things that brought us to Bainbridge Island are gone. But we don’t sense this is the right time for us to move.

The more I think about where I would want to move, the more I realize:
I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but here.

Tags: places

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Learning The Lessons of Nixon // Jul 27, 2004 at 7:42 am

    If I could live anywhere…

    Julie has a great post on Bainbridge Island, where she lives. Jen says she felt right at home in London. Dean thinks big: “A house in Rockland County, NY, an apartment in NYC (perhaps in Brooklyn Heights), a home in Carmel, CA, and a place in Ch…

  • 2 bill reith // Jul 27, 2004 at 8:56 am

    I got the chance to visit Bainbridge Island several years ago, and I agree with you. Its a lovely place, and well worth any effort that it takes to live there. Wish I were there right now.

  • 3 marcus // Jul 27, 2004 at 7:58 pm

    stumbled here through a portal after doing a google search on seattle blogs.

    very nice site, and nice entry. i would love to visit the pacific northwest, and consider relocating there as long it didn’t rain every single day (it doesn’t, does it?)

    sounds beautiful…my wife the New Englander finds it curious as well.

    thanks, from Hot as Hell Texas.

  • 4 Kris Hasson-Jones // Jul 28, 2004 at 10:43 am

    I love Portland–I was born here, I’ve spent most of my life here, and whenever I left the homecoming was quite emotional. I can’t really imagine living anywhere else.

    Within 2 hours’ drive we’ve got desert, summer skiing on Mt. Hood, ocean beaches, the Columbia River Gorge, lava lands, the Willamette Valley, and all the benefits of a medium-sized city–opera, ballet, symphony, jazz, music, fabulous restaurants, terrific parks, a thriving downtown and lots of individialized cool neighborhoods. We don’t have the traffic of Seattle, and it rains less often in Portland than Seattle–of course, we also don’t have major league sports or the Sound or the Olympic Rainforest.