LAST WEEKEND I had a friend visit me in Seattle. We both grew up on the same hot asphalt of vegas: streets devoid of trees and a summer day meant staying inside to avoid heat exhaustion. I’ve kind of been avoiding memories of burning car seats and rock-filled front yards, but when Savannah came into town she was leaving the heart of the desert and being dropped into a very, very rainy Seattle. All of the emotions I had when I first moved here, the disbelief at the abundance of greens, how cool it was that houses were right next to stores and not tucked away in country clubs, came flooding back to me. I was taking her to all of my favorite places and seeing them for the first time again through her. Sometimes we discover ourselves best through other people, and I want to take this time to write a love letter to my current home.
Waking up in West Seattle, a little island where my family now lives in a wooden slated house with no room for a backyard, but a side yard filled with herbs. You would swear it’s a sleepy beach town, and yet you can see the skyscrapers right across the sound, dancing in glittery flecks across rocking waters at night.
Most mornings I take some twisted route that drops me off at Alki beach so I can run past the sand and rows of restaurants. On clear days you can see the Olympics dappled with snow and the islands across the way. On lucky days you can see seals popping in and out of the surface, bobbing like corks, and playing. People huddle up on guardrails with binoculars to catch glimpses of Orcas. Kayakers and windsurfers are also part of the picture, zipping back and forth.
I walk up to California Ave, aka the Junction, passing through blackberry filled alleys to get there. Maybe I visit Easy Street, a two story record store that is half music and half classic diner, complete with peeling glitter booth seats and a waitress constantly holding a coffee pot. The murals on the brick outside redone every month, and sometimes I stop and help fill in the colors. It is home to an amazing breakfast scramble and $2 albums filed under “Yacht Rock” which an employee told me is just where they stick all of the bad music.
Across from that is Cupcake Royale, which was my hideaway the first month that we moved here. When the house was hollow and didn’t have wifi yet, this restaurant comforted me with chai lattes, chocolate vegan cupcakes, and complimentary internet. I’m here right now, looking out the huge windows and typing away.
But for the best coffee, I head up the street to Hotwire which has different flavors every season that perfectly blend ingredients like violet, ginger, orange zest, caramel, and blackberry, into the best tasting caffeinated drink.
Sundays though, Sundays here are the best. The main street is shut down and filled for blocks with fresh fruit, vegetables, jams, and flowers. I love how the color palette changes with the seasons. Right now it’s a rich palette of cranberries, carrots, purple potatoes, honecrisp apples, purple flowers, yellow squash, and dark green spinach. My brother sits in the underneath a hanging flower basket and plays his saxophone, and he goes to get pizza afterwards with crumpled one dollar bills. I load up my arms with carrots that will be shredded into rice bowls and sweet potatoes that will be turned into waffles and walk with him to the record store.
Walking the area around University of Washington, I am most likely in a sweatshirt with my hair up and a coffee in hand. 100% sure I have a bitchface on running from class to class, but that’s only because passing is a mere ten minutes and campus is pretty huge. Speed walking by grand buildings covered in Ivy that made me fall in love with the school in the first place. Suzzallo library has my inner 11 year old deeply satisfied because it has a clear Hogwarts vibe. (I was really really devastated at 13 when my owl didn’t come with my acceptance letter)
When I have breaks between classes or it’s time to study, I always head to the Ugly Mug. It’s tucked away in a little corner by a construction site, so I missed it over and over again my first couple months at school. Once you are inside, it is an eclectic haven of chalkboard walls and dried lavender hanging from the ceilings. They also have vegan soups and jasmine lattes. This is my spot whether I’m meeting somebody for coffee, reading the latest issue of Frankie, or cramming for an exam. Another place where I get my caffeine fix is the coffee shop underneath the art building, filled with student paintings and students who are works of art themselves, adorned in lace, faux leather, fishnet, patterns, purple hair, and working with headphones in. I feel really at home here.
Thai Toms… my second home. So many bitterly cold days remedied by their vegetable yellow curry. The employees recognize me and usher me in right away no matter how long the line is, asking before I even sit down, “Pad thai or yellow curry today?” Sometimes the staff sings along to Disney songs as they bustle about this cramped space. I sit and watch the fire spike and whoever is cooking that day. They always get so in the zone, rhythmically bouncing, spinning, and tossing vegetables up in the air.
Pioneer Square is the old downtown, once lumber buildings turned into Persian carpet shops. The paint still remains on the bricks of a lot of buildings, like ghosts of the past still showing in the present. This area is filled with old lanterns, lights strung along trees, kickass vintage stores, and this feeling that you were thrust a step back in time. It’s also where I work, at a jewelry store called Fresh Tangerine. I spend workdays making espressos, in the photo studio, or looking out of the huge windows.
On lunch breaks I go to Julie’s for their amazing veggie Pho, but when I have more time I head to London Plane, which is part flower shop part perfect brunch spot. Their avocado toast has been instagrammed by me so many times, but each time I am truly in awe of it’s perfection.
The Trendy part of Seattle, where my sister and I ran screaming across rainbow crosswalks when all love was legalized. When I visit here I usually trek from the bottom around Melrose all the way to Roy St coffee, which is just a Starbucks in disguise. The streets really are rainbow here, not just because of the painted crosswalks but when it rains all of the lights reflect in streaks on the street.
I swear I spend half of my life in Elliot Bay book store. I sit between the photo and film columns with a Kinfolk magazine or a chunky book like Fashionable Selby. Flipping through pages and marveling until the sun goes down. Right next door is Totokaelo, which I would never be able to afford but is like a little clothes museum. The shoe wall should be a national landmark because of how many bloggers have photographed it. And just around the corner is Molly Moons, always smelling like freshly made waffle cones with one or two vegan flavors for me to try.
So many more places and things I love about Seattle, like riding the ferris wheel by the waterfront or visiting the wig shop by Pikes place, but these memories, these moments, make me feel a sense of home.