My brother lives in Seattle, so we (my parents, sister, brother-in-law, husband, baby, two cousins, aunt and uncle) decided to rent an Air B&B in the Capital Hill Neighborhood not too far from my brother’s apartment. The house was great, except that it had this circus theme with dozens of bizarre circus-related posters and prints on the walls, featuring circus acts and attractions of yesteryear. So, for example, upon waking up from a long afternoon nap, you might find yourself staring into the sad, exploited eyes of a bathing-suit clad bearded lady, or at the unsettlingly anamorphic and viscerally indecent-looking thighs of a group of lady elephants.
Anyway, because I don’t exactly love D.C., (despite my half-hearted attempts at making myself love it) every time I go somewhere new, I go half wondering (hoping?) it’s the city/place of my dreams. Seattle is nice enough, but I didn’t love it. Maybe I’m just too used to the tidiness and compactness of East Coast cities. Seattle seemed a little too grungy and spread out, in my humble opinion. Plus, there’s the whole lack-of-sun thing. Am I an east coast elitist partial to neoclassical and Georgian style architecture? Am I a boring suburban mom who craves organized uniformity? Is it a crime to want a little old-world quaintness and charm? I don’t know. All I know is that the cloudiness doesn’t help; I need the sun. I know, I know…the summers are fantastic, the skies cloudless and blue, the days long and luxurious. But to that I say: The winters aren’t. My soul would be dark and shapeless in a Seattle winter, and it would also probably smell like mildew. What can I say: I’m solar-powered. When the sun sets, so do my ambitions, creativity and energy. If I moved to Seattle, I’d be a sad, smelly blob on the couch for half the year, probably living vicariously through Caribbean House Hunters International reruns. So although I enjoyed my visit, I’m 99.9% sure Seattle isn’t the city for me.
But there were some things I liked.
For example, it’s so green, even in winter. There are places you can go (e.g. small pockets at the arboretum) where you can half convince yourself it’s summer, as long as you ignore the slight chill in the air. You see every shade of green, from neon to deep olive, and that somewhat makes up for the winter cloudiness. On some mornings, the air smelled damp and earthy, which I found refreshing. And it doesn’t get that cold.
I liked the West Seattle/Alki Point neighborhood. It was laid back, scenic and quiet. If I had to live in Seattle, this is where I’d want to live. I really enjoyed the Schmitz Preserve trails, which make you feel like you’re in a rainforest. You really can’t compare east coast nature to west coast nature; the natural landscape of the American West is just so superior that our undramatic little east coast mountains seem boring in comparison.
The drive from Seattle to Leavenworth was pretty spectacular: Jagged, snow-capped mountains and tall, snow-frosted pines along a windy highway surrounded by mossy forests. Leavenworth itself was a Bavarian Disneyland so bad it’s good.
Next time I’ll visit in summer.