Dear Seattle: I think we need to talk. About us. Or, more specifically, about the lack of "us. " Ooh, I've been dreading this conversation...
I think we need to talk. About us. Or, more specifically, about the lack of “us.” Ooh, I’ve been dreading this conversation, but it’s a conversation that needs to happen. One that’s been a long time coming, quite frankly. OK, OK. Here goes.
I know you’ve been really busy lately, so you may not have noticed that I haven’t been … around … so much. Perhaps you’ve even noticed that all my stuff is gone. It’s true, Seattle. I’ve moved out, and I’m breaking up with you.
Wow. These things are never easy. Look, I know you’re very caught up in … whatever it is you’re keeping yourself busy with these days (Viaducts? New sports facilities? Perhaps another round or two of meetings about school closures where everybody screams and cries and is as noisy as possible and then complains they’re not being heard?), but I really want to make sure you hear me. I want to end this relationship on a good note and not have it be weird between us.
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Severing these ties, making this break, is especially hard because the two of us go way back, Seattle. I’ve grown up with you, really. I was just a teenager hanging out with Federal Way when my eyes met yours. In high school, I used to take the 174 Metro just to be with you for a few hours, Seattle, and feel much cooler than I actually was. I’d walk around your University District, drink tea at the Last Exit, hit the used-record stores that sold the kinds of music that Federal Way never even knew about, much less approved of.
Eventually, I broke things off with Federal Way (a good high-school romance but not a good fit for a long-term committed kind of thing). I went off to college and had flings with a couple of other parts of the country. But they meant nothing to me. You were always on my mind, Seattle. You were always on my mind.
And so, while still in my impressionable early 20s, I moved in with you. And look, Seattle, WE HAD A GREAT RUN! We went to the theater, we saw a lot of bands, we hung out in coffee shops. Good times. I bought a house and planned to stay with you a long time. My wife and kids liked you. We were happy together, Seattle.
But over time, people and cities grow. They change. And sometimes they do so in very different ways. I think that’s what happened to you and me. We started to drift apart. The little gripes and quirks that you have, those things that I’ve always been able to tolerate and even find charming at times, really began to bug the heck out of me. Things like your cost of living for a family, for instance, or your fumbling around on transportation issues (although I must admit, that Sound Transit train is going to look simply adorable on you). Also — I’m just going to come out and say it, Seattle — THE RAIN! No blame here; I know you can’t help it, it’s a chronic meteorological condition. I lived with it for decades, even convinced myself I enjoyed it, but I think I reached the saturation point, you know?
So why, you might ask, did all of these issues start bothering me now, after all these years? Well, I don’t think they are the cause of my desire to break up so much as they were symptoms. See, in recent years I’ve begun to wonder if it’s really such a good idea to be metromonogamous. Should I consign myself to sleeping in just one city for the rest of my life? Is that fair to me? Is it even natural? And well, Seattle, once I got the idea in my head, I just couldn’t seem to get it out. And I went online. I looked at other cities’ profiles, saw how they looked, what they were into, and finding out about all the other metropolitan fish in the sea made me even more restless. Was I really still in love with Seattle, I thought, or were Seattle and I just in the habit of being together?
And that’s when I met St. Paul, Minn., and things got really complicated. St. Paul and I had run into each other in passing once or twice over the years, just friendly nods and hellos really, but it wasn’t until a 2007 business trip together that we realized we had real chemistry. There was a spark that I hadn’t really felt with you since, gosh, Joey Cora was playing second base for the Mariners.
As I got to know St. Paul, a whole new world of possibilities began to open up. Paul wants to give me a bigger house and doesn’t want all that much money for it. In fact, Paul doesn’t want to charge me much for anything. And Paul has these great schools for the kids! And ice fishing! And hockey! And yes, there is the mind-shattering cold to consider, but I think we can work around that. I think. I hope. The attraction might be a cultural thing, too, seeing as how I’m the son of Norwegian immigrants. As the Jews have Israel, Norwegian-Americans have Minnesota. It’s a homeland, and we all must make a pilgrimage.
But I guess Paul’s strongest appeal was the adventure and novelty of it all. Now, I know St. Paul is from Minnesota, a place not exactly known for being “the other city” that someone is apt to run off with. It’s not like Miami or Los Angeles or New York or, well, Seattle. But when you’ve been with Seattle your whole life, Minnesota becomes your version of exotic. You only get one life, and having been to REI, I wanted to visit the Mall of America, too.
I guess what it comes down to, Seattle, is, and I know it sounds trite: It’s not you, it’s me.
And hey, let’s stay friends, OK? I mean that. I know a lot of people who are still with you, so I’ll be back to visit, and when I do I don’t want any dirty looks. And St. Paul can never hold a candle to your beaches or mountains or home values or, I don’t know, people who avoid making eye contact. You’re the king in all those categories! And who knows what the future holds? Maybe this is just some sort of midlife Midwest crisis and in a couple years I’ll come running back, having gotten this whole crazy thing out of my system.
Good luck, Seattle.
Hope your viaduct doesn’t collapse, killing hundreds in the process and making you wish you had perhaps done something other than take a very expensive vote, the result of which was to do absolutely nothing.
John Moe is happily cohabiting with St. Paul, Minn., where he’s a senior reporter for the radio show “Weekend America,” heard locally from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday on KUOW.