It’s drizzling rain and about 39 degrees outside. I’m chilled to the bone. I couldn’t wait to get to Starbucks. Days like today remind me of Seattle. I lived there from November of 1998 to June of 2000. I celebrated New Year’s Eve of the year 2000 in my third story condominium with a guy whose name I’d prefer to forget, waiting for the entire solar system to crash because of the year 2000 computer changes. Nothing happened. Nothing happened with him either….deadbeat.
I had never been to Seattle before I decided to move there. I was fresh on the heels of Divorce #1 and reeling from its impact on my life. I had been on the Divorce Diet and weighed the same as I did in high school. I couldn’t even eat. I got married at 23, and I wasn’t really quite sure I could do life on my own. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it emotionally or financially. But, I was learning. And, one thing I wanted to do was to live outside the Southern United States. I wanted to go on an adventure, one that I could call my own. A job opportunity opened up for a sales trainer in the Seattle area – covering the Washington, Oregon and Alaska markets. Now….THAT sounded like an adventure for this Watson LA native.
I bought a cute little 700 sq. ft. condo in Kirkland in a weekend. I had just bought a much bigger condo in Knoxville that my company would sell for me. I had to sell a lot of my stuff to even fit in that tiny little place. But, it was mine; it was urban; it was in the Pacific Northwest! OMG…here was my chance to live the life I’d dreamed of as a girl in rural Louisiana. I had heard it rained there, so I bought a pair of Hush Puppies brand ankle boots that were water resistant and lined with quilting. I didn’t know how cold it would be, but I didn’t want my feet wet. That was the best purchase I ever made. I also bought a raincoat, but people in Seattle don’t wear raincoats. The year I moved there, Seattle had 118 straight days of rain. I wore the hell out of those boots. My feet stayed cold from the wet and the dampness – year round. My parents came out July 4th, and we watched the fireworks in winter coats and under three blankets. The next day, it would be 75 degrees.
Starbucks had not really migrated everywhere by the time I moved out there, and Seattle is where I got hooked on the stuff. I know why Starbucks started in Seattle. It’s so cold and damp that coffee is the elixir that warms you up every day, several times a day. There were coffeehouses everywhere. Right next to a Starbucks would be a Seattle’s Best Coffee. Local chains proliferated, too. And, I drank a lot of coffee. I drove a lot in my job, traveling to big box stores all over the Pacific Northwest to train salespeople on the benefits of Whirlpool, Kenmore and KitchenAid appliances. And, whenever I drove, I had my coffee to keep me warm in the cold, dark rainy climate.
The thing I loved about Seattle was it was way cool. The people were cool. They were quiet. It took me awhile to understand that their aloofness was not because they didn’t want to get to know this friendly Southerner. It’s just the way they were. Everybody hung out inside – coffee shops, restaurants, bars – because it was too dang wet and cold outside. But, the secret is that after June, Seattle starts to get progressively more and more sunny days. And, when there is a sunny day, those sun deprived people GET OUT. It’s crazy busy when it’s nice outside, and there are all kinds of opportunities for outdoor activities. There are volcanoes to climb, paths to run, mountains to hike, Puget Sound to kayak and lakes to paddle. I would go to Lake Washington in Kirkland to kayak at lunchtime. It was right downtown, and I could rent kayaks by the hour.
The Space Needle is what most people think about when they think about Seattle, but I never went there. I spent a lot of time being outdoors when time and weather permitted. I traveled a lot, too. Traffic up there is horrible. The year I was there it was voted the worst traffic in the country. You see, there is a lot of water. There are only two bridges that run east and west. So, traffic gets stifling. It was nothing to have a 3 1/2 hour commute for about a one hour drive. All of that traffic jam would be in the dark and rain. On sunny days, though, driving or being stuck in traffic was cool. It was beautiful. You could always see Mt. Rainier looming on the horizon. The lakes and waterways were beautiful nestled in the hilly neighborhoods. Everywhere you looked was beautiful, outlandishly stunning scenery. All this was in my backyard. Who needed the Space Needle?
So, on days like today, when I start to get gloomy, I just think about Seattle and how the weather there might be just like this today. If I was there, I’d probably go to Starbucks. I might run over to the Pike Place Market and watch them throw fish and sample some of the 20 different species of smoked salmon for sale. I’d probably be looking for another pair of those Hush Puppies to keep my feet warm by now. I know I would have gained my weight back. That’s way too much inside time and way too many mocha calories for me to stay at my high school weight. It was an adventure, and I’m happy to reminisce about it on days like today. And, here in Memphis, I don’t even have to wash my car in the rain. That’s a perk.