Nothing was wrong. It just didn’t feel right. I look back on the past year in Seattle the same way I feel when I hold a vanilla latte. Comfort, warmth. Two-feet-on-the-ground, head-in-the-right-place stability. We bought furniture. Joined an amazing church community. Ran my first 5k. Paid off student loans. Stocked up on household supplies at Costco. My life was wonderfully and unabashedly normal.
At the end of the day, everything was okay, and that was sort of the problem.
Just because my head was in the right place, didn’t mean my heart was. With this blessing of groundedness came an underlying question of “Okay, what’s next”. I tried to shake off that feeling at salsa clubs and bury it on morning jogs. And though I was grateful for the many, many gifts in my life, the challenges, the life lessons, and most of all new friends, I was open to change. Open to the uncertainty and adventure of the Next Step. Whatever that would be.
So I did some reflection. Looked into bigger cities. Somewhere I would feel inspired. Somewhere I could grow. And I found it in Chicago. Like Seattle, it has personality. A different one, with fewer recycle bins and more pizza joints. And my family is a 2 hour flight away instead of an overnight redeye. It’s a diverse, friendly, pulsating city. You could explore Chicago every day and never reach the bottom. Neither city is better—just different.
So after 3 months here, everything’s shifted a little.
I’m slowly learning Portuguese. The pronunciation is completely different, and it sounds like underwater Spanish. For now, I’m using podcasts but plan to take group classes soon. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but our trip to Rio after the wedding gave me an excuse to dive in. I’m also learning a different kind of salsa—mambo, which is on a different beat. And with slightly different styling. Every time I go on the dance floor, I get the same feeling when listening to my Portuguese lessons—very, very lost until that brief moment when something is familiar. And then very, very lost again. But you don’t grow if you don’t learn, so I’m excited and energized by the long road ahead.
On those beautiful summer days in Seattle, I’d walk up Capitol Hill from downtown, rife with Instagram moments. A pithy flyer for lesbian film screenings. Sidewalks generously sprinkled with pink petals from Japanese flowering cherry trees, a popular option from Seattle’s Approved Street Tree list (yup, that’s a thing). People lined up around the corner at Molly Moon’s ice cream. A unicyclist on his daily commute. So many things to see and appreciate. Seattle has a unique energy that few cities can claim. People are tolerant and mindful. The heart and soul of the place is incredible. And I wouldn’t be disappointed, if the universe aligned, to move back someday.
If there’s one thing I’m worse at than volleyball, it’s saying goodbye. So this isn’t a goodbye to Seattle. It’s a thank you note—a sad one and a happy one at the same time. I’m sure the city is the same without me living in it, but I would never be the same without having lived there.