Leaving Home to Find Home

I don’t remember the exact day Seattle became my home. But it doesn’t matter because I felt comfortable on my first visit.

It was nearly midnight when I steered a clumsy U-Haul across the 520 bridge that connects Bellevue to Seattle on my way to the University district where I’d live in a studio apartment across from the University of Washington. Although I hadn’t visited many large American cities, I’d spent a couple of years making my way around larger German cities. I was able to make my way around Frankfurt and Koln, so how difficult could Seattle be?

I’d soon find that out that building a city surrounded by water makes GPS a necessity.

520bridge

I was 26 years old and nearly 24 of those had been spent in Utah. It wasn’t that I was dying to leave Utah after graduation. I more or less stumbled across a job that took me from Salt Lake City to Rock Springs, WY and finally to Seattle. When I accepted the job, I knew there was a chance I’d be transferred to Seattle or Denver. I would have accepted either.

But there was something about Seattle. A bit of aloofness. Political, but not in an annoying way.  Ken Griffey posters outnumbered only by Starbucks logos. Or maybe it was Pearl Jam which a friend had recently introduced me to. The song that hooked me was “Black”.

Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head
I’m spinning, oh, I’m spinning
How quick the sun can drop away

Thoughts were spinning for sure. So was my life, but moving to Seattle gave me a glimpse of hope. Each border I crossed, I left a portion of my old life behind. Utah, Idaho, and Oregon. There was plenty to go around, and when I reached the 520 bridge and looked over the edge into glimmering moonlit water, I had no doubt this would be my home for a long time.

It’s difficult for me to understand why so many people decide to live their entire life in one city or state. I’m sure they have their reasons. Maybe their job or family keep them from leaving. Or they are content to stay put. But I’ll bet many fear the unknown. The notion of leaving the familiar for the foreign doesn’t sit well with them. Reminds me of the song, “Taking the Long Way” from the Dixie Chicks.

My friends from high school
Married their high school boyfriends
Moved into houses in the same ZIP codes
Where their parents live

And yet, I understand why people stay close to their roots. Especially when children show up on the scene. I never lived more than 30 minutes from my grandparents. They were part of my life in a way my children will never experience.

Yet, I look back on my decision to leave Utah, which was made during the most tumultuous time of my life, and can’t help but smile. I wasn’t smiling back then very often because I had no idea better days were just around the corner. That turning point is indelibly tied to Seattle.

I was raised in Utah. But I grew up in Seattle. 

photo by S x 2

Comments

  1. Funny that you mention the kids, because I would think the same way, even though as a child, I noticed that any new kid in school would become instantly popular, because other kids thought he was interesting and, I don’t know, refreshing? So I always hoped my parents would move and I’d become the popular new kid…

  2. MikeHenneke says:

    It’s interesting how we end up where we do. I think we moved 12 times in 12 years as a married couple. Albany is where things turned for the better for me. I call it home.

  3. This made me smile. Having traveled many times while in the Navy, I truly felt like home wasn’t where I grew up anymore but where I was with my family. It’s a wonder to me that folks do as you described, never leaving their hometown.

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