I Came Back Here to DIE. (or, Yet Another Love Letter to Seattle)

Seattle 4 comments

Seattle is one of the great loves of my life, so when Glynis mentioned to me that Causality, in addition to being about time-travel and strong, interesting characters, was also a love-letter to Seattle, I immediately jumped in with both feet.

I’m not from here: I’ve been around. The world. At least once by the time I was five. My dad worked for the foreign service, so growing up, I never really had a sense of home, other than wherever my family was.

I moved to Seattle right after undergrad in San Diego, when other Gen-X’ers were flooding the area due to the Grunge Explosion. I was not sure why I had come – I woke up one morning and knew I had to move here. It just felt right, in my gut.

The journey up I-5 was fraught: very little money, a dying car, and plenty of fear. I didn’t know Seattle, after all, and that made me feel very small and afraid. Stops in San Francisco and Portland, along the way increased the fear – San Francisco seemed HUGE and impersonal; Portland and I didn’t get along AT ALL, which made me really apprehensive about Seattle, since I knew it was bigger.

I needn’t have worried. There is a bend in I-5 where you can see the Emerald City, glimmering in the distance. The final leg of my journey up I-5, I saw Seattle and instantly knew I was home. We were immediate friends.

And friends through 13 years of ups and downs, living and working and schooling. Making art of various types, making and breaking friendships, falling in and out of love. I never really felt alone, because Seattle was always there, always my friend and my home. Long walks to Greenlake, swims in Lake Washington, sunrises from the sun dial at GasWorks park. For 13 years, this constant friend, with my footprints all over her. Flash forward 13 years.

On I-5 again and I am leaving my friend as I see the Space Needle in my rear view mirror hurtling south, then east, on my way to graduate school. I don’t think parts of me ever really left.

I was not entirely me for three years in Baltimore. I would watch the beginning of Grey’s Anatomy every Thursday to watch the wide cityscape shots of Seattle, which always made me cry. One writing class exercise had us writing a list: mine was Things About Seattle. I covered three notebook pages with tears streaming down my face. I would look wistfully out the window when it was grey and gloomy and my classmates would say “Awww, are you homesick for the rain?”

I couldn’t do anything but find fault with Baltimore. No love lost there. Nothing EVER measured up. I even started a list: Things That Are Better About Baltimore than Seattle. There were 5 things on it by the time I left.

So by the time grad school was over, though I hadn’t intended to, it seemed like a no-brainer to move back right away. I started telling people I was moving back to Seattle to die. I always planned on coming back eventually…thought I’d spend more time on the east coast but turns out, I am just NOT an East Coast Girl, and Baltimore is NOT home.

And so I’m back. Things I didn’t realize I’d missed still bring to my eyes, like the Pagliaccio salad from Pagliacci’s and the music my tires make as I drive across the University Bridge. The sulpher-y smell of the Puget Sound and the fact that I know all the shortcuts anywhere without having to take the freeway.

There have also been lots of not-so-great changes. Too many ugly new condos now standing where some of the beautiful old houses used to be. The yuppification of Capitol Hill. And people seem colder, cliqueyer and totally unaffected by the world around them.

But Seattle herself is still my constant friend. I just feel “right” here, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of water, fire and earth in the geographic energy around here that acts as anchor to my psychic makeup – maybe I just like the gloomy weather. You probably can’t appreciate Seattle unless you like a little gloom.

So I can only speculate that, as Dr. Genessee, traveling back in time a few hundred years, there will be some comfort of home in that energy and gloom. Even though the city herself may change in shape, size and landmark, the feeling I get from her will hold some soothing familiarity. She will always welcome me as her constant friend. And that will instantly let me know I am home.

Posted by   @   February 10, 2011 4 comments
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Feb 10, 2011
9:44 am
#1 Ralph Fontaine :

Great post Carolynne! I’m also not from Seattle but moved here, left, and was drawn back. She does that, doesn’t she. Apparently, even through time, she draws people. Thanks for writing!

Feb 10, 2011
10:05 am
#2 Jen Anderson :

Beautiful homage. =)

Feb 10, 2011
11:11 am
#3 Carolynne Wilcox :

There’s gotta be some special word for us masochistic “movebacks”. I love the idea that, no matter how vast the time-travel, even though the characters can’t get “home” to their particular WHEN, they’re always home in their particular WHERE. I know if *I* were in that circumstance, I’d at least take comfort in that.

Feb 10, 2011
11:13 am
#4 Carolynne Wilcox :

Thanks, Jen. Can’t Help Lovin’ That Town of Mine.

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