In 2007, when I dragged my heavy Chicago heart away from the only place I had ever called home, I committed myself to two years living in Seattle - what I deemed at the time to be a fair enough shot. I truly envisioned reaching that milestone and heading home soon thereafter. Everyone here and there will tell you that I wear my Chicago love on my sleeve. In some twisted interpretation of logic, I left there because I loved it so much.
This past April marked my six-year anniversary here and sometimes this segment of time - the bulk of my 20s - feels like it's passed by in the blink of an eye. Other times, it feels like I've packed an irreplaceable ass-ton of life and growth into these long, extraordinary years in Washington. I believe it's impossible to hit the road with only yourself, and evade evolving and being shaped by whatever new environment greets you. If you can, you're probably doing it wrong.
I've hit my two-year milestone for the third time now. Sometimes I feel ready to return to Chicago, sometimes I feel ready to try a new place, and sometimes I look around me and fear that I may really love it here. Part of me envies folks who know without question where they want to be. And how.
No, really, I want to know. There are many of us on this site who have moved from Chicago, and I wonder why some of you left and then stayed (or perhaps kept moving). And for those who never left, how did you know that's where you wanted to be? Why do you all exist where you exist?
My own decision to remain in Seattle is directly linked to its proximity to other things. I don't stay here for my job, nor any other person, nor because I think Seattle is some fantastic city (don't get me wrong, it is pretty far out). I live here for the ocean and the Olympic Peninsula - the first place I ever stepped foot in Washington State, that fateful July weekend in 2006 - and the same reason that I moved here.
I stay here because quirky, beer-loving Portland and the wave-happy Oregon coast is a quick skip south; and stunning vivacious Vancouver, is but a notch to the north. I live here because sometimes I like to take a break from surfing in the rugged Olympics rainforests, and drive east through the mountains, to the dry desert heat for a weekend instead.
I live here-
For my wandering spirit and aesthetic-driven eye, I find it tough to top the landscape here, no matter what direction I face. Call me crazy, but I enjoy how small and insignificant the nature here makes me feel. The clean air ain't so bad either.
I miss Chicago constantly (Chicagoans especially) and always consider moving back. But something still prevents me from pulling that trigger. The wonder of where plagues me endlessly. And even though it doesn't roll off my tongue totally effortlessly yet, in recent years, I've caught myself referring to Washington as home.
*all photos taken on my phone, other than the unedited Seattle shot from my roommate's phone, and the pic of me low-tide jumping, taken by a friend