Hello. I just got home from Seattle. It was my first trip to the West Coast and boy howdy was I charmed.
I was also charmed by this, my first opportunity to take a non-wedding related vacation in an exceptionally long time. I am married now, which means I am allowed to have sex, file jointly, and travel in peace. Also, own property.
Our first stop was Seattle proper, where one of my loveliest librarian friends has made her home. And boy, was it a nice home. First of all, do any of you have friends who have serious design skills? I feel like I am above average in my home decorating skills, but my darling Shelley? She has got something else entirely. More than a good eye – more like home design guts. Her apartment looks like she’s lived in it half her life – it’s filled with pictures and books and vintage furniture and art… basically, it was like stepping into an Apartment Therapy home tour. Just a lovely space.
Also, we met Ferdinand, my own ginger kitty’s male doppelgänger. Except skinny and all over the da-amn place. Ferdy made Peach look like a chubby, largely immobile pile of fluff.
We did a night and a day in the city. Our friend was so kind as to show us her favorite parts of Seattle as well as some of the required tourist spots. The big downtown library was first, of course. I was particularly enamored with George Legrady’s digital installation that displays library collection and circulation data in a visual live feed. 75% of my professional nerd-interests in an entrancing video loop. Amazing.
On Sunday, we hit up Ballard and Fremont. Farmer’s Markets, record stores, the antique mall, and brunch.
Yuppie stuff. Delightful, delightful yuppie stuff.
We even stopped by a bar for a 2 p.m. iced coffee cocktail. Shameless.
My boy and I usually have more travel aspirations than we have time or money. In order to afford our trips, we squirrel away tiny bits of money, slowly filling our special travel savings account for trips yet unimagined. We prioritize travel over many things – we don’t have a budget line item for concert tickets or video games or even books – but our trips have been relatively infrequent. It’s hard to consider travel a true passion. Passions are what you obsess over, what you do every day. Travel is imaginary until the plane takes off; every trip sneaks up on me.
What I am passionate about is being the kind of person who shows up. It was delightful and convenient when our Boston friend moved to Seattle, but this trip was percolating ever since one of my nearest and dearest Michigan ladies was first stationed at Fort Lewis. Before we could afford to visit, she moved to San Antonio. And shortly after we moved to Boston, she was sent out to Germany.
But now she is back in the States, and back in Washington. We spent most of the week in Tacoma, catching up and sleeping in and watching Gru and otherwise enjoying each other’s company. I hadn’t seen her since 2009. I had never met her three-year-old son. I missed meeting Baby #2 by a few weeks, but maybe next time.
Visiting new places is fun but when you are far from your loved ones, a week of conversations and good company is priceless. Travel can be prohibitively expensive – it was for us for a long time – but now I have the time and means to make it work. I might not drool over the Travel Channel or max out my credit card on plane tickets, but if you’ll have me in your home or your city, no worries, I’ll do the legwork.
I’d love to go back to the Pacific Northwest, but I probably shouldn’t because then I might never come back. Seriously. It was beautiful and laid back. The libraries were gorgeous. The food was great. Everything was cheaper than it is in Boston. There was coffee EVERYWHERE.
A Jessica Wonderland.
Watch out, West Coast.