Guest Post: Seattle, toddlers, and voting, oh my!

This morning’s blog post comes courtesy of a friend of mine, Hafidha Sofia, a 30-something mother of one, who writes about her takes on Seattle after living here for a few months. Please give her a warm welcome.

Honeymoon Interrupted

I’ll just say it: I love Seattle. Maybe the love won’t last – maybe it’s all too new and its flaws are not so glaring to me yet – but for now it’s true, and I’m not ashamed to say it: I love Seattle.

What first attracted me to the city were its money and looks.  Hubster was offered a job here, and after three years of being un(der)employed and broke, the promise of not having to borrow money to pay the rent was a big draw.  We arrived in June to spend several weeks in corporate housing downtown. Our first day here we sat in patio chairs wearing short sleeves and drinking pink lemonade; we watched the ferries crisscross the Sound under a blue sky; and we felt like the luckiest people on the planet living in Paradise.

The magnificent summer weather, and the hope that our fortunes had changed for the better have set the tone for my relationship with Seattle; I see it as a beautiful city that beckoned, welcomed, and made room for us.

As Hubster delved into his work at the office, I made it my job to get a feel for Seattle. I didn’t have money to spend, but taking in views and people-watching are free. I wore Kidlet in a carrier, and she was content there, swaying against my back like a baby koala. With a few bags of sliced apples and cucumbers, some water, and a bit of cheese, we were both happy for hours.  I took daily walks to many of the famous downtown destinations. We strolled the waterfront, rode the ferry to Bainbridge Island, ate Spuds French fries at Alki Beach, and zoned out at the maneki neko display at Uwajimaya’s.  I wandered from Belltown to the International District and up to Queen Anne. Kidlet and I got tans and plenty of exercise.

The fun really began after we settled into our own place. After living in ‘bedroom communities’ for several years, having a walk score of 91 was a welcome change. A big part of my love affair with Seattle has to do with living in the city again. I’m familiar with the trade-offs, but I like the pace and possibilities of city life.

Other random things I love about Seattle:

  • Great for introverts: people tend to be helpful if I need them, but strangers don’t wear me out by trying to engage me. Maybe that’s the Seattle “freeze” people complain about. Don’t get me wrong – I like warmth and friendliness, too, but I don’t need it from everyone.
  • The bus drivers: the first few times I rode the bus, I had too little money, or money of the wrong denomination, and the bus drivers – without knowing anything about me – let me ride and wouldn’t let me overpay. I’ve yet to encounter a smiley, chatty driver, but despite the grumpy faces, they’ve always been kind.
  • Child friendly businesses: Whether it’s a train table in a pizza shop (I see you, Snoose Junction), a drawing table for tots in a shoe store (Market Street Athletics), keeping a stash of play toys (Silence-Heart-Nest, Ballard Sip n Ship, La Bera Cafe), or just having servers who treat Kidlet like a customer and not a pain in the ass (even when she’s being one), Seattle businesses make it easy for me to get out of the house with a toddler in tow.
  • Water, water, everywhere: I didn’t expect to notice this or care about it, having relocated from ‘Bridge City’ (aka Portland, Oregon) but marine culture is far more pronounced in Seattle than my former city. I love being five minutes from water at all times. Kidlet delights in the volume and variety of ‘boots’ that we come across on a daily basis.

I’d love to exist like this for a while longer … dreamily recounting the attributes of my new town and paying no mind to the rest of it, but after four months, my honeymoon is being interrupted by Election Season. Despite not opening a single newspaper since moving here and having zero television reception, I can’t remain oblivious. The  television in my physical therapist’s office blares at least half a dozen negative political ads in the 25 minutes it takes me to get through my regimen of squats and weight pulls.

bridge to the U District

My frivolous and fun Twitter feed has also been infiltrated – I used to follow only SeattleMaven and FremontChamber, but in September added more neighborhood accounts. That was how I first got wind of proposed budget cuts to community centers near my home. I had to follow SeattleWeekly and SeattlePI to get updates on those issues, and now I know the poll rankings of people I’ve never heard of, and there’s a lot of unpleasant news about proposals to add tolls to roads I drive several days a week.

And now some of my Tweeps and Facebook friends are posting about how important it is to vote this year.

All of this shakes up my plan to ignore politics until the next election. The responsible citizen in me transferred my voter registration to King County months ago without thinking, so now I sit here with my ballot, feeling the pull to fulfill the very least of my civilian duties, which means I actually need to know what the heck is going on.

Do I risk falling out of love with Seattle by a) learning the particulars of the state’s budget deficits and lousy politicians, b) fretting over tax revenue and unopposed Rep positions, c) coming face to face with evidence that it’s an imperfect city in an imperfect state in an imperfect country? Can beautiful vistas and helpful bus drivers overcome all that? Probably – so long as Hubster has a job, and we can afford to live here. I may one day stop loving Seattle, but remaining in the dark about a loved one rarely makes for a better relationship.  See you at the ballot box, November 2, 2010.

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2 Comments on “Guest Post: Seattle, toddlers, and voting, oh my!”

  1. November 1, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    It is hard to walk with open eyes into the place of disillusionment, even though we know it’s the place we inevitably have to go!

  2. hsofia
    November 1, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    @raymondj – So true. And I think it’s rarely as bad as we fear it will be.

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