I fell in love in the Autumn of 1993, with the woman I now share my life with, and with the city, I call home. I had just recently arrived in Seattle from Alaska, where I had lived and worked the last four years.
I was no stranger to Seattle, I grew up in Eastern Washington and went to college 90 miles north in Bellingham where I also helped as a volunteer in an education organization, but this was the first time I had ever lived in the city. Not knowing the area very well, I ended up choosing an apartment in Leschi, more or less at random. I liked the idea of living next to the water (Lake Washington), even though my apartment barely had a view of anything wet (I did have a grand parking-lot view though).
I had just blown into town from Alaska, where I had worked as a tour guide in Anchorage and Valdez. I was completely burned out, having gone straight into a long series of demanding jobs straight out of college, so I decided to move to Seattle and just live off my savings for nine or ten months. After previously debating long and hard about what to spend my savings on, I had come to the conclusion that I’d like to spend it on time. I bought months of leisure in my new home, Seattle.
I had no idea what I was doing. There was a plan, originally, but it was a rather loose plan. I was going to spend time researching and writing a book about Alaska. However, after several weeks of “settling in”, I quickly built up a momentum of slack. It became much easier to procrastinate, find other shiny toys to play with, or just plain veg out than I had ever imagined.
I found myself going on long trips around town, just to get familiar with the place. I’d choose neighborhoods at random from a map and go drive to them, just for the Hell of it. While driving around, I’d often notice some juxtaposition of elements – a Bald Eagle soaring over the Kingdome – that would just make me grin from ear to ear. I was eating up what Seattle had to offer: the absolute best of both worlds.
A friend of mine was in town, directing a play at a local theater company, and one day she called and offered me a job as a stagehand for “Peter Pan” at the Civic Light Opera. It sounded like a good reason to get out of the house once in a while, so I agreed. I soon met the other people I’d be working with, one of them being Christina, whom I’ve been married to now for over 5 years.
Christina and I began carpooling to the rehearsals and performances in the Lake City area. She lived on Beacon Hill, would drive through the Central District to Leschi, pick me up, and we’d drive up Lake Washington Boulevard. We’d drive through beautiful winding curves along the lake and through Washington Park and the Arboretum. We’d pass through the U-District, through Ravenna and then finally to the theater. This became our route, and I began to fall in love with Christina as we drove it. Nothing reminded me any longer of my trip from Bosten up here. That was a horrible experience, but this was great again!
When you’re falling in love, it colors your impressions of everything, and I began to see so much more beauty in my surroundings. I dug up old photographs of Leschi, back when it was a ferry landing for small boats that would cross lake Washington before there were bridges. The place had a lively history, much richer than you’d expect to look at the swath of houses and condos on the hillside today. The history did get a little richer one day though – Kurt Cobain shot himself, only a few blocks north of where I lived. I know it’s absurd, but I couldn’t help but think that there might have been something I could have done. I was in such great spirits and felt like I had love and compassion to spare for anyone and I felt like volunteering again.
I would drive to the Arboretum and walk around, feeling like I was close to Christina, simply because of the familiar surroundings. We started dating soon and quickly knew that we had something very special happening. Seattle had always been a special place to me as well, but it became even more than, it became the place I met my wife – no, more than that, it felt like Seattle had introduced the two of us. After spending some time getting to know her (Seattle), we became friends, and she knew someone who would be just right for me and set it all up. She gave us great places to go and things to do when we went out, a wonderful site for our wedding, and now she’s even welcoming my new daughter as a native, born right here in Seattle.