- A city of west-central Washington bounded by Puget Sound and Lake Washington. First settled in the 1850s, it prospered after the coming of the railroad in 1884 and became a boom town during the Alaskan gold rushof 1897. It is now an important commercial, transportation, and industrial hub and a major port of entry. Population: 652,405.*
- Home of immense towering Evergreen forests, misty coastal lands, rocky beaches, and glimmering lakes
- Gem of the Pacific Northwest
- A bustling Haven for the hip and trendy foodies, tech-ies, higher-educated beings, hipsters, up-and-commings, and hobos
- Epicenter of the universe (see "People's Republic of Seattle")
- Idealized mecca of diverse opinions, views, and people, so long as they're not too conservative ;)
So I've been having mixed feelings about leaving this beautiful city. Spending only one year there never seemed like enough to me; I could spend five years in the city and still feel like a tourist. The thing is, you speed through these wet mountain passes with Jurassic Park trees towering at monumental heights, and past large expanses of water, with the peak of Mt. Rainier a distant white shadow, and you think you'll never see anything as majestic again in this lifetime. And you get the sense that everyone there really loves to be in Seattle; they all bike, and rock climb, hike, and kayak. There are so many of them, and so much to do that at any given moment, millions of people are humming about, but because of the density of these forests brought on by continual intermittent rainfall, you can feel isolated, and almost in another time and place as the rest of the world.
The people are another sight altogether. I've never met so many "higher-educated" individuals per capita in my lifetime! Everyone has a PhD, grows their own organic vegetables, bikes to work, kayaks on the weekends, and knows more about technology than I can fein. I generalize, because really with all the people in the bustling city, it's also very eclectic. The area we lived in had many mosques with women dressed to the hilt from Hijab to Niqab socializing in clusters every Saturday. Along the main drag near us, we also had three XXX shops (to meet our other cultural needs), Vietnamese (or Banh Mi) Sandwich and "Pho" places with clever names like "the Pho-Than Brothers" and "Pho King Palace" (pretty classy when Pho is pronounced "Fuh"), and other little multicultural markets. We lived in a diverse neighborhood called Lake City, Seattle being divided into may different neighborhoods, or "districts" each as diverse in demographic as can be. Picture the Big Apple, where Brooklyn and Manhattan are neighbors, but completely different in everything including accent.
So further North of us, you had "greater Seattle" which were the bordering cities that equated to mostly neighborhoods and normality in my mind. See how we're at the very top right on the map? Well you could travel a skip and a jump North to Shoreline or keep going up to Everett, or West to Bellmont if you just HAD to visit Walmart (which is pretty much the biggest faux pas you can commit next to carrying an umbrella when it rains). Our area was a bit neighborhood-y, a little run-down, and very diverse. I could safely estimate that our apartment building was 90% asian tenants.
East, Greenwood was full of young 30s, two working parent homes. These people loved wearing exclusively non-stylish hiking shoes and sandals, and taking their average 2.5 children for outdoor excursions in between meetings with their successful tech-corp start-up board meetings, and socializing at the local play gym over Starbucks. Green Lake was similar, and the Lake especially being satellited by only young or incredibly well-preserved 50 year-old joggers with bodies that made you wonder why they were still exercising when they clearly should have been "done".
The University District which was mostly students and homeless people was WILDLY different. Many hip 20-something UW students knew to frequent the sexy, hole-in-the-wall cuisines like "Thai Toms" which was frankly, incredible. These students all wore Toms, had mustaches and other facial hair, at least two neck tattoos, hipster pants, and bonus points if you could not tell the gender/sexual orientation of the person just by looking at them. An interesting dynamic arose as these students waited in long lines at 9:30pm outside local eateries, or rode the vast network of busses, passed by disheveled homeless folks that smelled of sweet urine and sweat. On one such occasion outside of Thai Toms, a man bearing resemblance to Colonel Sanders complete with powder blue tux, mustache, and cane walked by us on the sidewalk carrying a bag of coin wrappers. He turned and said "all these youth; nothing better to do than block the sidewalk...move out of the way!...Bunch of A** holes..." Classy.
Capitol Hill was even more "classy" and therefore we didn't live there or venture there too much of the time. Conversely, many beautiful old renovated homes were in and around Magnolia, Wallingford, Fremont, and Queen Anne, with lots of local farmer's markets and interesting small businesses. Downtown is segmented into even smaller street-wise districts that vary from where high-rise corporations like Microsoft meet startups, to lake-hugging upscale fisheries, to touristy places like Pike's Place and the Seattle City Center that you take out of town visitors to. This is culturally even more diverse, and filled with explored oddities that are new every time you visit. Around here you have West, East, and South Lake Union, with amazing museums like The MOHAI and Center for Wooden Boats. Running through all of this, remember, are Lake Union and the Puget Sound. There is the Burke-Gillman biking trail and trees galore that make you feel like maybe it's not a city of 600,000+ people. And it's not just Seattle; greater Seattle has beautiful islands like Anacortis, Bainbridge, and Bremerton to sail to explore via ferry ride. There's Snoqualamie and Olympic National Park, not to mention Victoria and Vancouver and Rainier only hours away. And that's what I mean when I say I could stay for years and never explore a 10th of the food, culture, and scenery this place has to offer.
There are certain patterns and generalities you'll allow me to make, pertaining to the people I most commonly met and called "Seattlites".
These are the rules to fitting into this society:
- You must eat what they eat. Acceptable party snack contributions include: Quinoa salads, salmon or any other sea fish, anything with cilantro and chickpeas, acai berries, anything sweetened with agave nectar, and hummus and pita chips (so long as they're gluten free). If you bring salad, it must contain greens only meant for animal digestion including Kale, and adorned with some kind of homemade vinegarette. Water must only be consumed if Sparkling.
- Unacceptable foods include: Puffed Cheetos, pasta salad, casseroles, grape soda, and anything that you didn't grow yourself.
- If you are vegan, talk about it open and oftenly. If you are not vegan, make a point to ask if the meat you're eating is local, how it was raised, what was it named? Did it lead a happy life?
- You must hate Walmart with a passion and express distaste for large, insensitive corporations while pledging your first-born child to the Apple Company and your second-born to REI
- Always cary reusable bags! (If you have don't, they make you pay 5 cents for a disposable paper one, but the humiliation you face on the walk-of-shame back to the car will last a lifetime)
- Invest in Toms, hiking boots, and those ugly strappy hiking sandals
- Never carry an umbrella; doing so will brand you as an outsider
- Remark in polite conversation about how "It never rains, only mists" to your friends, while complaining to your family back home of the torrential downpour
- Be really interested in the weather and rush outside any time the sun peaks its little head through
- Get used to the traffic! As in, it could and will take you 30 minutes to get anywhere, at any given moment, and in the residential streets, you have to pass others in narrow one-car-only stretches. Don't even try to find parking downtown.
- Make your daily commute on a bicycle, scooter, long-board, or bus.
- Discuss your political views openly and often, as long as they're "progressive" views
- Donate to charitable ventures
- Be accepting of all religious and moral viewpoints, but don't express preference for any one, or at least that you'll raise your children to be unbiassed
- Post a "12th Man" poster in every window you have in solidarity for the Seattle Sea-Hawks
- Listen exclusively to underrated Indie/folk music until it becomes too mainstream (With the exception of Macklemore)
- Learn to hike, rock climb, kayak, bicycle, run marathons, row, and any other individual sport you can participate in with your pet dog.
*Definition brought to you by Wikipedia