I hate to be a cliché in my own life, but I believe that running away to NYC actually taught me a lot about Seattle. I came out of high school with a fully formed desire to escape that place. Suburban, middle class, mostly white high school taught me – in some strange ways – that nothing I wanted was going to be easy to get. We had the academic standing, but the culture of our school was restrictive. While administration wanted us to perform well on standardized tests, they barred us from creative endeavors like theater programs and newspapers. And, unless it made the school look good, philanthropic and cultural clubs were also out.
That atmosphere left me, the motivated do-gooder with a creative bent, completely despondent.
I spent a lot of my time in high school creating and leading – whether it was the school newspaper or a book drive or a play. Although suburban areas are often better in terms of safety and academics, they offer little opportunities for the kids that don’t have enough money for tennis lessons or transport to cultural centers. I overscheduled myself to abate the boredom of sitting at home every evening. And it got tiring. So tiring, in fact, that I thought the best solution would be just to get out.
My exodus to New York City, I can see now, was not only motivated by the desire to go to an amazing women’s college, but also to escape the apathy and boredom that permeated my town. In NYC, I could join and leave something as I saw fit, offering me a strange sense of freedom.
Now, it probably doesn’t surprise anyone that Seattle has been calling to me again after two years of being away (especially with all the love I’ve been giving it in previous posts). The suburb I grew up in still remains as toxic as ever, but the city itself shines in my mind’s eye. When I returned for the summer and my job plunged me into event after event, location after location, and organization after organization, I realized the wealth of cool things that there were to do in my own hometown. It became less of an odd little fact that I was from the upper left (à la Blue Scholars) and more like I owned that place. And hell, if there’s a place that I should feel ownership of, it’s that one. Indie and creative, rich with diversity, and full of amazing non-profits left and right. I never knew it till I left high school, but now it’s glowing in the back of my mind.
Below is a list with links of the places/groups/experiences that I’ve really enjoyed in Seattle (and Washington at large!):
Reading and taking pictures at Volunteer Park * Swimming at the T-Dock * Café Pettirosso’s hot chocolate * Café Vita’s top floor * Neighbours * EthnicFest in Tacoma * Barbecues in Yakima * Firedancing and 4th of July at Gasworks Park * Seattle Pride * ZombieWalk * Alki Beach * Volleyball at Idylwood Park * Rollerskating at Southgate Roller Rink and the Rat City Roller Girls * Visiting Bruce Lee’s grave * Ice cream at Full Tilt, Molly Moons, and Bluebird * SakuraCon * Tiny hidden bookstores * The Washington Bus office * Capitol Hill Block Party * Candidate Survivor * Late nights riding around in the U District * Gorgeous lookouts in Madrona * The Vera Project * Richard Hugo House & ZAPP * Pike Place Market in the middle of the night * Theo’s Chocolate Factory * Dick’s Burgers * FEEST * Bikeworks * Hiking Wallace Falls and Snoqualmie Falls * Ruby Beach * Marymoor Park * Victor's Coffeehouse and Soulfood Books in Redmond * Urban Craft Uprising * Eating pho everywhere * Volunteering in Skagit Valley * Eating at Portage Bay Cafe * OneAmerica * The Troll and Lenin in Fremont * Martin Luther King Jr. Day marches * Hanging out with amazing motivated do-gooders at all hours of the day and night
My Seattle-loving friends, add to this list in the comments!
Check out a video of some of my Seattle friends and read about my (dreaded, but mighty) high school days.