“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” Sinatra meant New York. After living in Beijing for 3 years, I thought the same. It wasn’t that hard a decision moving to Seattle for the job. That was March of 2010, about 2,700 days ago.
In year two, its charm seeped into us. It seemed that we were always glad to be back. Pretty much every summer hosted several rounds of visitors and every winter saw us leaving for a week or two. After 7 years, the list of “places to visit” was still quite long. Of course, like any brisk-pace metropolitans, there were always new restaurants to try out and old ones to keep on going back to. This charming city offered me a good job, strong coffee, excellent beers and wines, and delicious foods. What else do I need?
Seattle, misconceived by Californians, is not wet, but cold. Water does fall from the sky frequently, but it is usually misty. Sun shines nearly as much, if not more. The winter, from about October to late February, is grey, cold, dark, and miserable. That gives spring the joy, summer the delight, and fall the closure. Seasonality is what souls need. And the cooler climate fits me well. Putting on layers, long coat, beanie, gloves, and boots was actually fun, just like t-shirt, shorts, and sandals.
Seattle grew at break-neck speed in these years. From my balcony, I counted no less than a dozen high-rise cranes, zipping about all-day to move stuffs around. South Lake Union rose up from the ashes right in front of my eyes: glittering buildings, edgy restaurants, gyms, and markets spawned up seemingly over-night. Parking lots, car dealership, low-rise hotels disappeared from downtown and became high-rises. Seattle is geographically constrained by water and the cascade mountain ranges. This translates to short walking distances, highly developed public transportation, and, yes, expensive city housing.
Would I come back? Almost certainly. Would I retire here? Probably not. The most likely scenario is to become one of the “snow birds” who fly in around summer Solstice and leave around Halloween.
Then I will become old, but that’s way too far in the future to worry now.