I left Seattle.
I sold a lot of stuff, packed the rest in boxes and bags, and drove my rented U-Haul cargo van across I-90.
I left my studio apartment with views of the Space Needle, Puget Sound, and 4 coffee shops in walking distance to live in the suburbs. Living in the suburbs was something I vowed to never do again. That’s the life I left behind in Texas; the life of shopping centers and SuperCenters and endless options of fast food chains and planned subdivisions and mega churches and and and and…
It felt like I was going backwards. I left Texas to live an urban life; to walk and bus everywhere, to root myself in a neighborhood, to live life in a different way. And now I’m returning to what I left?
I feel like I failed.
Packing is the worst. Trying to make sense of all the little trinkets and things I collected over the 2+ years of living on my own was exhausting. Do I pack according to what space it will go in at the new place that I’ll be sharing with two other women? Or do I pack the old place by room and then sort it all out at the new place? Three boxes in and I was just throwing stuff into boxes all willy nilly. There was wine, there was music, and there was a lot of crying. Endings are so incredibly hard.
My best friend came over and packed my kitchen. My friend and his husband helped me pack the last few boxes a couple of days before the move. More wine, some conversation, no tears. People offered help, and I learned to say yes and to be honest in my sadness, grieving the ending of my life in Seattle.
I celebrated my last night in Seattle, in my lovely studio with some kindhearted people. We ate, we drank, we shared odds and ends from our pantries with each other. We sat on the uncomfortable wooden floors, we played games and we laughed. We raised our glasses at hard battles fought and lives well lived.
Talking with my friends that night, I realized that while I am sad to leave a city that helped to shape who I am in such a tangible way, my grieving was rooted in the idea that this season of life is over. I moved to Seattle for graduate school, and the past five and a half years have been the most fruitful and life-filled years I have ever known. To leave Seattle means that this chapter is over, and I will never again be this person in this space ever again. I can always come visit, and I can always move back, but it won’t ever be the same. I knew this cognitively but the emotional impact was almost too much to bear.
The suburbs are strange. I drive everywhere now. There’s not a coffee shop within a 10 minute walking distance, nor a grocery store, nor a movie theater, and I haven’t even begun to look for my beloved Thai food. Everything is hidden behind trees to give it a more ‘natural’ look, but it feels so artificial. I miss the brick and the sidewalks and the city lights.
I’m learning how to live here, what it means to be me here. I know in time that I will learn how to love it here. The commute to work is insanely short, my roommates are wonderful, I don’t feel so isolated and alone, and the rain smells different… I’d say ‘maybe better’ but I’m not yet ready for silver linings.
This is my truth.