I move around a lot. And in so doing, am often awash in its side effects. Namely, adventure and loneliness. See, there’s nothing sweeter the unknown, except maybe not being the sole witness.
So when I moved from one end of the country to the other, again, I was expecting what I’d found in New York, or San Francisco, or any of the other fancy towns who’s rugs and pillowcases had been left a little less so by me hanging around them a touch too long. While living aboard an old boat in San Francisco bay It was 6 months before I made the acquaintance of anyone. On the eastern seaboard it was 8 months before I met some folks who’s motives seemed anywhere north of cool. Spending all tour time trying to get away from people is admittedly no way to make friends, but thems the breaks.
And so, expectations were modest to say the least when I finally rounded that crest headed north on I5, and saw my new hometown of Seattle after spending a month on the road getting there. I’d come for the land. For the space. For the mountains. This was the frontier. An escape from humanity.
For a musician, leaving Brooklyn could well be categorized as a bad move. And so I was only half leaving. My feet were headed west but I was keeping my head in New York, with my band, and all my other troubles.
I had no intention of making music in the Northwest. I needed a break. I needed to worry about something else. I needed to go get lost in the wilderness and worry about survival for awhile.
But Seattle wouldn’t have it. In fact it chastised me for the thought. How can you move to one of the hottest musical climates in the states and not want to strip to the waist and dive in?
In short order I’d met some of the best musicians, and more importantly the best people, I’d ever known. And I met them within weeks, not months. They wanted to make music. They wanted to play. No subways, no schedules, no money, no hassles. Just creating things that make the world turn a little easier, creak a little less.
It’s always strange when you go see old friends in a new town, “Well we can go see the cathedral, or go see the ocean, or go see the canal…”
“Naw man, I came here to see you”
So yeah, I came to Seattle run through the wilderness and disappear into the unknown for awhile. I came for the land. It’s got a lot more than its share of natural beauty. But I was wrong. Seattle isn’t defined by the ground, but those that walk on top of it.
More from James Apollo’s photo shoot can be found here.
The Emerald City. A place I grew up associating with technicolor dreams and fantastical characters. But Dorothy ultimately clicked her heels in order to return home from there, yes? A jet, not a tornado brought me here, and it is here I finally found home.
My first introduction to Seattle was in Y2K when I came to DJ at a rave alongside friends DJ Craze and Star Eyes. I remember flying up from San Francisco and descending from the clouds into this gorgeous natural landscape of water and islands and inlets – fascinated. But that’s about all I saw besides the airport, a restaurant, the inside of the warehouse and my hotel room that weekend. I vowed to get to know this place a bit more.
I returned many times in the years to come – as a visiting DJ I got to know the city through its urban landscape of clubs, record shops, late-night eateries, and the beacon that is KEXP. I made some wonderful friends and fell in love with the quaint neighborhoods, hospitality and “freshness” of the music scene. I remember how awestruck I was at my first sight of Mt. Rainier, the delight of the tulips popping up in spring, and getting a 2-day caffeine high from a proper Seattle-brewed latte!
Fast forward a few years, and I was flying up again, this time from Los Angeles with my new sweetheart William to meet his family. (Funny thing about my man is that he lived in LA for almost 15 years and never changed his 206 phone number, WA license plate or drivers license. Dedication!) As soon as we started dating my folks started joking about how they were going to have to start saving their frequent flier miles so they can visit their grandkids in Seattle. I guess there was that underlying notion that it was a place we would eventually settle, but with our careers in entertainment, making Seattle our home would probably be a ways down the road…that is until Microsoft called.
Within a matter of days – quite the whirlwind – I interviewed, accepted and started this new job. I tell friends it was the easiest choice I ever made. It really just made sense. In the months to come William and I got engaged, he started at Microsoft as well and a new house sealed the deal. Did we ever put down some roots!
My adjustment to living here hasn’t been dealing with “the weather” as some may imagine, as much as it has been embracing the new person I am becoming. After a few freakouts and calls to friends declaring I needed to move to Paris, just this year something shifted. Deepening friendships, getting to show off my Seattle faves to visiting guests, growing food in our garden, developing my yoga practice and training to become a teacher through a wonderful studio – all of it is somehow clicking.
I feel peaceful here, so present to abundance and so grateful to this city who has opened up her arms to me. Seattle. Blessed!
Seattle – city of my birth. City where my parents raised me. City I now gaze out at, workday after workday, from a coveted window cubicle.
Someone once moved here because of me, and then left for sunnier climes.
I’ve wondered if a better version of myself would also move away. If I were tougher, would I move to New York? If I were braver, Silicon Valley?
I almost settled in Los Angeles, but the constant sun felt like an expectation of cheer I did not feel. Its brightness gave me headaches that stabbed, metallic, into my sinuses, lodged in my jaw, beat behind my eyes. So I came back.
I catch flak from friends in other places. From LA: “Isn’t the suicide rate, like, twice the national average?” New York: “Don’t you run out of things to do?” Silicon Valley: “At least you can fly down here whenever you need to do business.”
How could they possibly understand? Seattle’s charms are subtle and sensuous – crisp midwinter days when the sky peeks in, reminding us that it lives above the clouds. When the spring wind lifts the hair from my shoulders, it feels like a lover kissing my neck.
Seattle is vibrant if you know where to look. My search lead me to a circus studio in SoDo – the aptly named Emerald City Trapeze Arts. The first time I jumped from the platform, I swung and squealed. Now, I fly to the catcher with all the clumsy enthusiasm of a puppy – offset by the occasional moment of soaring grace.
I fly for me.
Not for my boss, or my coworkers, or the CEO of my 250,000 person company.
Not for my parents and the big, complicated, noisy blended family I grew up in.
Not for my ex-fiancé – who decided he preferred sunshine.
I fly for those moments when my body clicks into the rhythm of my swing and I’m weightless, a pendulum – simultaneously subject to the laws of nature and free from them.
I fly for my ego – to tell the world that I am trying something new and daring and different. And paradoxically, as I fly, I stop caring what people think.
I might fly away from Seattle in ways I had never considered. I always imagined that a supposedly better version of myself might move to New York, or Los Angeles, or Silicon Valley to join the next hot startup – not to join the circus in my late 20s. But like the man said, “life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”
On Saturday Teresa took her first flight without safety lines. (Congrats Teresa!) Her story about Saturday’s flight without the belt can be found on her blog.
If you want to learn to fly, Brian and the folks at Emerald City Trapeze are amazing. Check them out at emeraldcitytrapeze.com.
How many girls can say they get gorgeous bouquets of flowers every week? Even the best boyfriends aren’t THAT good. I dated somebody a couple of years back, and remember being sad that he never gave me flowers through our entire relationship. The day that relationship ended, I walked to a local farmers market and bought the biggest, pinkest bouquet of flowers I could find. Walking with my arms full of a beautiful orchestra of blossoms made me happy and reminded me that I didn’t need to wait for somebody else to make me feel special, and so from then on a new tradition was born.
Every Sunday morning, or sometimes afternoon depending on what occurred the night before, I wake up with an agenda. I must get to my nearest hooded sweatshirt and jeans, throw my hair up into a messy bun, feed the two hungry cats and head to Ballard Avenue.
Starting at 10:00am there is a Ballard Farmer’s Market filled with flowers, street musicians, tasty handmade treats, crafts, children and dogs. As if parking isn’t bad enough in Ballard, Sundays are the worst! Not only does the community come out to celebrate this year-round Sunday tradition, but a large portion of Ballard Avenue is closed off for the market. This is not an issue for me though, no, no. I have discovered a “secret spot” that never fails. If you think I am going to tell you about my secret spot here, you would be silly, then it wouldn’t be secret, you would take it and you would mess up my routine. Just know that I have it and it is glorious.
Once I have parked I head to Volterra for a delicious breakfast and coffee, also on Ballard Avenue. Sometimes I arrive by myself, or meet friends there, but either way I am never alone. Aimee, the delightful and wickedly funny waitress, serves me at the bar where we trade our adventures from the past week. When she sees me walk in the door, she smiles and says, “Hey Jeanne, I’ll get your cappuccino going.” I don’t even have to tell her, she just knows, and I love that.
After finishing my delicious breakfast, I walk out into the market to see the flowers. I must evaluate all of the flower vendors sprinkled throughout the other stands before I know which bouquets will be coming home with me. I pass the first flower stand at the beginning and after taking a look, continue into the rows of crafts and produce. I am then overcome with the intoxicating smell of the donut stand where they are making donuts on the spot. It is not an accident that I ate at Volterra first and am fully satisfied so I can resist the temptation.
Once I have scanned the goods, I find two five dollar bouquets that will come home with me and bring my living room to life for the rest of the week. Once I’ve made my selections, I head back to my secret parking spot and head home to replace the vases filled with last week’s flowers, because this girl gets flowers every week and am reminded that I am special.
Make Up Forever #205… with a MAC lip liner in beet, thank you very much. You can’t miss it. My lips are beacons for wayward sailors. So bright. So daring. Over the top and ridiculous. Or so I think… like when I wear dangly earrings and perfume and my eyes flit from one side of the room to the other, convinced the glances are burying thoughts mistaking me for a hooker. These are my insane thoughts. Why am I wearing this blaring statement? And what is it saying??
But this is why I came here, right? Moved myself across America for a “quality of life.” Put in quotes as a mockery. It doesn’t really exist…it can’t be found…or at least I can’t find it.
Or can I?
Seattle, you’ve saved me.
I can barely recognize that person I was. Strange that happiness should seem so foreign. But there was always that thing. That thing that was missing before I started to trace it’s location back to this mecca of fleece and coffee and “gear” and beards. The place I was able to find myself and be proud. Accomplish things I didn’t think I could. Stand up for myself. Fall in love again, with music and life and a puppy. Fall in love with myself again….or for the first time.
So, I live here: Seattle. Surrounding myself in quality of life with no quotes. Full steam ahead. With red dangerous lips and a puppy at my side.
More from Jessica’s photo shoot can be found here.
I was talking to a friend recently about how much we take for granted the changing seasons. Autumn is alive in all its damp chill and brilliance, and everyone is talking about how astonishing the colors are, how delightful the leaves are underfoot. Of course, we know that winter is next, and a warmer, greener spring will come when the time is just right, so we see beauty in the withering, the breaking, the cold misty mornings. We take a walk and enjoy the season before another begins.
When it comes to the changing seasons in my own life, however, I rarely express the same sentiments. Instead I’m the one running around with scotch tape trying to stick the leaves back on the trees, devastated that they’re turning colors and falling everywhere, making such a mess. Moves in particular are hard. I remember the first night I spent in my home in downtown Seattle. I had moved in the middle of a snowstorm, but thanks to some heroics from my movers, the boxes and tables and chairs and piano were finally through the door and shoved in various corners. A local painter had whitewashed everything, and I’d managed to drag a mattress up the staircase to the open sleeping loft with the help of a friend. Later, lying there under piles of quilts, I panicked. This place would never feel like home. How could I even sleep here? It was too stark, too open, too exposed to the street, and far too bright, the way the streetlights lit the alley. I calculated curtain measurements. My eyes traced patterns on the wooden closet doors, and I listened to the city sounds for hours.
Sometime in that early early morning with the snow, sleep came. And of course, other seasons came too. Years later, I’m still living in downtown Seattle very much at home in my loft, and I’m a bit mystified at how that change happens. Is it the unpacking, the stuff in a space that makes a place feel like home? Is it the experiences, the making of memories? Is home where you spend your time and your imagination and your resources? Is it where your habits are? Your heart? I’ve fought for my place, built it up, then torn everything down from the walls to start over. Lovers have come and gone, and guests have laughed through dinner parties. The ceilings here are high, but nooks and crannies and odd hidden spaces give way to curiosities. There are stories in the walls. And I can always see the sky.
They say the only thing constant is change. That may be true. So is the change that comes with perspective. Maybe home is less somewhere we dwell and more something we carry with us, a little bit like hope, and the simple contentment that new seasons will come when the time is just right.