Evan Bush, a Seattle Times reporter and a member of our “New Seattle” team, moved to this booming city five years ago: “This period of my life stands out as crisp and colorful.”
Five years ago, I set off to Seattle from Columbia, Missouri, in a beat-up Toyota Camry with an Ikea mattress stuffed so tightly into the rear passenger seat that I trusted fate as much as my mirrors when changing lanes.
Somehow, I’d managed to jam my life’s possessions in the sedan’s crevices, and attach two bikes on the back, too. I couldn’t afford a moving truck.
I won’t forget my journey west: not the salmon-tinted dusk that fell over Wyoming, the azure lakes of Montana, or Yellowstone’s geysers revving up and firing into the purple sunset.
Nor will I forget listening to an NFL washout play country metal to an empty bar in Casper, Wyoming, or careening to a stop on my mountain bike as a bison glowered 50 feet down the path, or finding my car, parked on a Spokane street, covered in safety glass and missing many of those possessions I’d puzzled to fit.
Research suggests we structure our memories around moves, and use these moments to order our personal histories and recall time. Our memories, University of New Hampshire researchers found, are enhanced and more specific around relocation.
Moves might be “temporal landmarks,” said researcher Karalyn Enz, that help us answer questions like, “Did that happen before or after we moved to Seattle?”
I believe it. This period of my life stands out as crisp and colorful.
I recall feeling courageous setting off for a city of grit and rain. I knew only one person here before departing for Seattle, I’d later tell people, as if I were somehow braver for taking on the drizzle and social solitude.
My sharpest memories come at the trip’s denouement. As I drove over Snoqualmie Pass, puffy mountain clouds swirled above, sending occasional spits of Cascade mist splattering into the hole where I once had a window. I used my new rain jacket (I was warned I would need it) to cover up books and records in the passenger seat.
Before I cruised into the city, where golden-hour light lit Smith Tower like a beacon, I crossed the Interstate 90 bridge and then into a tunnel. Carved into the concrete above, are the words: “SEATTLE — PORTAL TO THE PACIFIC.” Grand words for a grand entrance.
That passageway didn’t just carry me to the Pacific, but to the pages of this newspaper, to the summit of Mount Adams and to a rooftop arch in Fremont, where I married my wife.
Now, as Seattle’s population grows and the city’s skyline features more cranes on its horizon than any other U.S. city, I wonder where that portal takes newcomers.
A new focus at The Times — which we’re calling “New Seattle” — aims to answer that question with wide eyes and open ears.