Seattle is a territorial city. It aims to please all its residents equally.
It says to those who wish they were French, “I give you Ballard. Buy a baguette and a latte at the local farmers market before enjoying an art gallery made with only organic materials.”
It hollers to those who can’t get enough of their twenties, “Please enjoy Belltown! Live life in the city with overpriced drinks and breathtaking views. Party hardy.”
For those who want everything to be utterly suburban but within city limits, “Run around Greenlake. You will forget you are in a major metropolis but still be comforted by knowing you are technically an urban-dweller.”
And for those who live on the other side of Lake Washington, known locally as “The Eastside,” it excites them by saying, “You can have killer amenities and half an acre of land, and yet when you’re on vacation tell people that you’re from Seattle and it will be legitimate.”
This is exactly my problem. For a commitment-phobic person such as myself, choosing a place to live is akin to choosing a life partner — you have to live with it indefinitely, in one word it represents who you are, and you truly don’t know what kind of deal you’re getting until long after you’ve signed the dotted line.
Was that cynical?
Luckily, my life partner turned out to be a spectacular deal. That’s why I’m so petrified of choosing a place to buy; what are the chances I’ll strike gold twice?
Yesterday Mike and I went with our realtor to see a number of condos downtown and also a cute house in Wallingford. The condos were top-of-the-line with views to match, low maintenance (but with high maintenance fees, of course), and deep in the city. The home was the exact opposite: 1920s woodwork (but no appliances whatsoever), steeped in charm, and would take months of work to be livable.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Because Seattle keeps fast-pitching the choices from the kitchen and we keep bellying up to the table to sample the selection.
Friends are no help in the situation. Please reference the first five paragraphs of this essay to understand why. Everyone already lives somewhere, and defends it as though it is their first-born. No matter how unappealing, it’s theirs, so it’s beautiful.
Again, am I drinking from the cynic’s cup or what?
Conversely, we truly agree that the majority of neighborhoods in Seattle are fantastic and have their own benefits, so we can be easily swayed by a very satisfied customer. You love living in Kirkland? Please, expand on that! Maybe we would love it too!
We recently had dinner with two great friends of ours and their six-week-old baby boy (he is objectively very attractive, unlike the hypothetical baby from two paragraphs ago, and I’m not just saying that. We discussed it with the couple at length). They were a Godsend because they were so unemotional about the situation. They live in Bothell, have a beautiful home and yard, and love it. But they emphasized that it might not be our time for that yet. Maybe we’re supposed to be living our newlywed years in the city, in a place that is loud and fast-paced. Maybe the yard and the three bedrooms aren’t what we need right now. And maybe that’s OK.
It’s all very James Taylor circa “Home by Another Way.”
“Time to go home by another way, home by another way/You have to figure God’s saying play the odds/And go home by another way.”
I want to live high in a tower in the middle of the city. I want to live on a square of green grass that is my own. But I need to be at peace with having one first, then the other. Or allowing myself to let go of such strict parameters, and just let God lead. Imagine — being OK with where He has me. That is the ultimate goal.
For now He has me at my favorite place on Earth, Eastlake Avenue. Our little nest meets all of our needs and spoils us with a view of Seattle I will miss when I leave. If God can select this place for us, I am positive He can figure out our next home.
In the meantime, all pithy commentary on where we should live is welcome. Unless you live in Issaquah. That is never going to happen, people (especially now that I just made enemies with everyone in Issaquah).