27 June 2013

Week-old reflections on city dwelling, and other updates.

In mid-May, Michael and I relocated to Ballard, in NW Seattle. We loved Camano, and miss it, but he was ever commuting and I had little luck finding a job that wasn’t an hour or more away. In the fall, I will also start back up at the University of Washington, which is just a few miles from us here, so that also was an added incentive to find someplace closer. We are fortunate to have been able to find a wonderful place here, and that we could afford to move when we did. Michael and his dad actually just remodeled the apartment we moved in to, so it is almost like brand new save for the layout—it is the top level of one of the sweet old houses that seem to make up the majority of this area of town.

City living is something that, while you remember it well once you’ve done it, is drastically different city to city, apartment to apartment, street to street. In Chicago I was so far back in the building that street noise was usually only audible when an ambulance or fire truck passed by; otherwise the only sound came from my landlord’s office next door, someone passing through the hallway to get to the street or garage, or my upstairs neighbors. However, one of the things that I often wished I had there was more natural light: the studio usually only capted a tiny bit of sunshine, in the morning or afternoon depending on the time of year. This for that, I suppose!

Michael and I have never really lived anywhere near downtown, though being from “the Seattle area” when you introduce yourself elsewhere in the country makes you feel as if you know it like the back of your hand. After moving back from Georgia, we quickly realized how little we knew it, let alone all of the other areas that have been growing (perhaps a bit akin to the speed of weeds, to be totally frank...) between the city and Camano. We were familiar with Lynnwood, Stanwood, and Camano. Not too helpful when you are looking for somewhere to live closer to the city. I was completely intimidated by the search for a place to rent, having no inkling of many areas, commute routes, and what a fair price really was. In Ballard we found a location that very much feels like it’s own little neighborhood, but that is close to the locks, the zoo, University Village and the UW, and I-5. Of course, “close” is sometimes relative...usually between the hours of 8-10am and 3-7pm :) Everything just seems to take a lot longer then, for some reason!

So we are acclimating to a new city, slowly but surely. It has been hard being quite far away from my parents, but fortunately we have more time now to plan our weekends, and often get to see both families. I guess, really, we are just arriving at a certain state of normalcy—most people don’t live down the street from their parents forever! Not to say it is a negative thing if you do. Being here has given us so much opportunity to spend more time together and to enjoy discovering our part of the city at our leisure. I recently also started a job at Pottery Barn in University Village, which has been a fun experience so far. Last week I took the bus here for the first time, which brought back many memories from Chicago. It is a strange experience riding with complete strangers. While there are times where it can be uncomfortable in the wrong way, lately I am feeling urged (through reading and prayer) to “hang out” in the discomfort of “doing life” with others around you. I think that today, we usually see others as an inconvenience, especially when they cut us off on the freeway, take the last good apple, or that back seat we wanted to shrink into on the metro. You can’t expect to meet or get to know them all, and that is not at all what I am advocating. Having said that, will it really hurt you to say hello to someone sitting next to you, to ask who the flowers are for, or what’s for dinner? I was pleasantly surprised to meet a father on his way to his daughter’s middle school graduation last week, rose in hand. He went on and on about how girls are so much easier, and he was so happy to have two. (This is the first of his two to embark into high school next fall, so I’d love to have a follow-up with him after that first semester!) In certain contexts, I might have thought that was a bit of a strange thing to say, but come to find out he has five sisters. Makes sense, then! It was a conversation that will likely be the only one we’ll share, but it was sure better than sitting awkwardly in each others’ personal space in silence. So go out, say hi to the person you find yourself next to the next time you’re riding a bus or a train. Who knows—you might even become friends! Years ago I was on the train to Portland and ended up sitting next to someone my age; we struck up a conversation and kept in touch for many years, though we’ve lost touch now. You never know!

The following segment was from about 10 days ago, and the Chicago Blackhawks have since become repeat winners of the Stanley Cup!!! We were so happy to be able to watch what ended up being the last game at our home with Michael's brother and sister-in-law. We could hardly believe the last 6 minutes of the game, in which Boston scored to make it a one-goal game, followed by a goal to tie it from Chicago in the second-to-last minute. At that point, I was really preparing myself for Game 7. However, we were rewarded for our cheers with a second Chicago goal to make it a one-goal score in our favor, just 17 seconds later! With just 58 seconds left in the game, we hoped against hope that that was it...and it was! Pretty sure our next door neighbors thought we were crazy, but we really didn't mind :) [I do my best to avoid falling into superstitions, but the past few years that has been hard when it comes time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This year, despite the delay of a multi-month lockout, hockey has been a constant presence in our home(s) and we have really enjoyed it. Following the Chicago Blackhawks has also been particularly fun, since they were the number one team in the entire league for all but a few days somewhere about two thirds of the way through the regular season! This week we are in full swing of the final series in the playoffs, trying to stave off the Boston Bruins from an earlier repeat than us with the cup (they won in 2011, the year following us in 2010). Unfortunately, we have lost the last two games and are down 2-1 in the series. All of that to say that if you have any kind of lucky ritual and feel like giving it a whirl for our Chi-town boys, I won’t stop you!]

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