Seattle, I’ll not stand idle

I’ve been in Seattle 4 years officially now. The time has been… bittersweet.

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Yes, it’s a beautiful city and region. That cannot be denied. The state of Washington and the Northwest in general offers treats for the eyes that are absolutely unparalleled. There are a number of people that are genuinely nice, motivated, and a delight to be around.

It can take time to find these people.

 

 

I can count on at least two hands the number of times I’ve been told “go back to LA!” or something similar aggressively (or maybe even passive-aggressively in places I cannot access), because I said something about Seattle that someone on the internet didn’t like. Even offline it’s prickly.

You know what, though? I’m not going back to LA. And I’m not going to stop loving this city with a critical eye.

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That’s what you do when you care for something — you spend time, money and effort. You pay attention. You call shit out. You think of ways to make things better. You remain steadfast.

 

 

Make no mistake about me. I want to work hard and live well and vote often and pay taxes that I know are somewhat going to the betterment of my surroundings. I want to learn, and to grow.

I understand that there are many people who’ve been in this area much longer than I, especially since I am not quite 30 years old and had to fight my way up here. However, that does not entitle natives or longer-term residents to bully me into silence when I say something that isn’t popular to dislike about this region, or commonly gets ignored in favour of other points on an agenda.

If I wanted to be purely antagonistic, I could step up to the stage, say I don’t care for Nirvana, drop the mic and be done with it. But that’s silly, because there are plenty of people who like the band and the culture surrounding it, which makes sense because this is grunge city and all.

Wisdom consists in not rocking the boat when there’s nothing to be learned or gained from it, so I don’t push that button.

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You may be asking yourself what I find so contrary about this place. Well, there’s a separate post for that which may come later.

For now, I am using this space to reflect on how far I’ve come, and to acknowledge that Seattle, for all its shortcomings (as you’ll find that no place is perfect), has helped me immensely.

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time & distance

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted my birthdays to be less about me and more about putting effort into other people and causes that I believed fiercely in. At the time of making this decision, I hadn’t been living in the Northwest for a year yet, and wasn’t connected to folks or organizations.

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May ’10, Bellevue, Washington

These days, that excuse can’t really be used anymore. If the recent shockingly sunny weather has been any indication, summer is fast approaching and the season’s all but booked with events I plan on engaging in one way or another. Here are just a few I’m planning on volunteering a bit for:

    • Trans* Pride Seattle. A few local organisations (Seattle Out & Proud, Gender Justice League & the Gay City Health Project) have rallied together to make this happen on June 28. Here’s hoping that a good deal of dialogue and community gathering will take place between trans* and gender non-conforming folk in the Northwest.
    • Genderfest. Entering its second year, Genderfest is a queer all genders celebration going on July 25 – August 4 in East Vancouver on Coast Salish Nations territory.
    • GaymerX. This convention proudly boasts being the first of its kind to have a focus on LGBT geek culture. It’s all set to take place August 2-4 in vibrant San Francisco.
    • Vancouver Queer Film FestivalAugust 15-25 ushers in this festival’s 25th year, offering a beautifully diverse array of queer cinema, dedicated artists, panels and performances.

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May ’10, Seattle, Washington (Interstate 5 southbound)

This is a fairly tall order of activity, but it should provide valuable opportunities to learn skills, meet people and contribute energy to stuff bigger than myself. Good things to absorb right around the time I get a year older. Factoring in the few days I’m spending in LA in just a few weeks as well, I expect to have great fun travelling the west coast this summer. I am looking forward to the days ahead.

the long way home

Autumn has quite the effect on me.

Having moved to the Northwest in the fall season three years ago, I found myself captivated by the leaves appearing to go up in flames colourwise, and eventually tumbling to the ground. I grew up in a place with not too many seasons – certainly nothing like this – so these events grab my heart.

October ’12, Sam Smith Park, Seattle

Since this time of year is so extraordinary to me, I try to do things to make it last a little longer. I sip cider and chai, and excitedly imbibe. I read books or knock shows off my Netflix queue and take snack breaks while watching the rain fall. I rely on common transport a bit less if I am able and up to the task of finding excuses to walk.

If I happen to be hanging out with others who are driving during our time together, I appreciate it when they take the long ways getting me home. I swell up with a certain pride when an area new to me reveals itself; Seattle is full of hidden treasures, and even when I’ve been here five or ten years I doubt I’ll make a dent.

Saturday night was a short wonder with one of my best mates, flying down 23rd Avenue ever so gently, scanning the leaves being whisked this way and that by the wind, in the midst of stray trick-or-treaters of all ages.

Exploring has surely got to be among the greatest highs in life. It can be terrifying and invigorating simultaneously. Feels like a tickle of my subconscious at its most intense, with the potential to bring me closer to someone, using that shared sensation of the world outside as a link. Doing so locally is a treat, especially when it doesn’t cost much.

The temperature is gradually decreasing, the air is crisp and fresh, and the expected noise of the city seems muted. It’s difficult to explain just what it is that makes this time and place stand out above the rest, but I don’t think I’d want it any other way.