Tuesday, December 14, 2010

you can stand under my umbrella

Did you know that it rains a lot in Seattle? It’s true. Whenever I tell people I’m from here they like to let me know this. ‘Seattle?’ they say, ‘it rains a lot there.’ And normally I feel some perverse need to defend the honor of my hometown by saying things about how beautiful it is even with all the rain and that it gets sunny for a reliable week and a half in August.

In general I don’t mind the rain; in fact sometimes I love it. I first realized how much I associated the rain with home when I was studying abroad in France; I remember vividly standing in the rain waiting for the light to change at a crosswalk and something about the rain coming through the blur of the cars’ headlights made me suddenly homesick.  That said, it has been absolutely pouring for four days straight and it’s making me a little crazy. The lake has risen so high that it’s covering all of the docks; you can see their ghostly outlines under the water like shipwrecks.

I’ve heard people say that Seattle is full of readers because the weather is so nasty all the time. This could be partly true but it wouldn’t explain all of REI fanatics who want to be outdoors all the damn time—talk to the single ladies around here sometime if you don’t believe me, it’s near impossible to find a man who will not try to make you go camping, ice climbing or whatever by date three. But I do think that the rain gives Seattle a certain thoughtful moodiness that suits yours truly these days better than New York’s edgy energy and it’s certainly better for my writing. The combination of the tiny apartments and the relentless feeling that if you stay in for a night you are going to miss something amazing can make New York City a difficult place to be a writer.  

I’ve been back in Seattle for almost a year now; I grew up here and my family is here but I haven’t lived here for ten years. I’ve discovered that I love this city and I know that it took the time away to make me realize that. It’s like realizing that the first boy you ever kissed was the one for you all along.

What makes you feel at home?


  1. I have a lifelong love affair with rain, but it's a fickle one. I live – have almost always lived – in the desert. It's horrible and I cannot wait for the day we finally leave it behind.

    Home for me is a scent. I cook and bake almost every day, and when my kids get home they always put their noses in the air and head for the kitchen.

  2. i live in a small town in southern indiana which is right next door to the small town where i grew up. the main road through this other town that leads to my old house makes me feel at home every time i drive down it. the parents of my best friend from high school live on the road, my grandma lives on the road and two other high school buddies. (that's how small of a town it is, i can nearly name every person who lives on this stretch.) the scenery, the farms, the creeks, it feels like home to me every time i'm riding along.

  3. We moved around a lot when I was young. And then 10 years ago I moved to England. Siblings are scattered now too. About 15 years ago my mother bought a cottage on a lake and we all congregate there every summer - that feels like coming home every time.

    P.s. Learning to live with rain is mandatory in England .

  4. Aw, lovely post, A. I'm quite proud of my ability to adapt when we move but there was nothing like the feeling I had landing at Logan when I came home to stay (for now). I was as excited as the kids, leaning toward the window, pointing out familiar landmarks. When the wheels touched ground my brain was screaming with happiness. Home wasn't one thing. It was everything.

  5. I, too, love Seattle. Rain and all. I lived there for a year in 2000 and it was spectacular. And though it was only one year, I swear I heard that question daily: "Seattle? It rains a lot there, right?" Drove me crazy!