Anywhere you grow up will disappoint you in some way. Seattle was often frustrating for me, because DUH, I spent my adolescence here—everything was frustrating. But I turn 20 on Friday, and I don’t have room for teen angst anymore. While there are plenty of things that can never be adulted out of me, I decided this week that it’s time for me to retire my angst Seattle. And the minute I stopped resenting it, I fell all the way in love with my hometown.
I’m there now, going through old stuff because my mom is moving in with her boyfriend on Saturday. This is the weekend when everything comes to an end, pretty much. I’m looking at it all laid out in front of me. All of my memories are mine, though, and I still get to keep them forever.
No one else has these:
I’m 16. Growing up on Capitol Hill means that my second-grade soccer games are played at the park across the block from the clubs I go see my friends’ bands at now. Posse on Broadway namedrops my cross-streets. That mind-blowing mural of a pterodactyl eating a Metro bus on the side of the bookstore on Broadway and John hasn’t been torn down for the light-rail station yet because it’s only 2008! Growing up on Capitol Hill means that everything is around me all the time and I try my best to absorb all of it and I owe my life as I know it to this place.
I’m 12. There’s this local band of six boys that are the current loved-or-hated band of the city. Of course, I LOVE THEM. Love makes me a MySpace fangirl, and I go to every one of their all-ages shows. So far, that’s seven or so. They put up with—even encourage—my tweenage enthusiasm, and now I’m not just a fan, but a li’l baby-size friend. Yeah, we’re totallllly friendz.
Now I’m 15. They eventually put me in their liner notes AND their Myspace Top 8, which is the pinnacle of my life on the internet!! They also introduce me to a whole new sphere of the city, the one where the music is, and that changes everything. I don’t suspect that they realize their impact on me. Thank you, guys.
I’m 14. I finally get to sell my handmade hair accessories at the most delightful store in the world. I start bonding with the owner, and she becomes my creative mentor and life coach as her store becomes my second home. She’s taking me backstage at the Gorge to meet my favorite band for my 15th birthday; she dresses me up and lets me walk in her legendary fashion shows; she allows me to hang at her shop every afternoon like she’s my babysitter, but she calls me her intern, and I learn about how to run a business and plan a grand fête as I try on ’50s prom dresses under the watchful eye of my pink-haired guru. Her cat, Vincent, is the closest thing I have to a boyfriend.
I’m 15. The afternoons not spent at the shop are spent at the record store on 15th Avenue with my best friend, who is a grade above me at my high school. We met at that record store 3 years ago. We buy our vinyl and stake out the organicfairtradesustainablelocalsolarpowaredsoyflavored coffee shop across the street to complain about our all-girls high school and scheme about our upcoming, more-exciting social life, which consists of going to a show every single weekend because there’s nothing I’ve ever liked to do more, and I now have an ideal partner-in-crime.
I’m 18. My prom is inside the Space Needle, so.
I’m 15. Weezer has been my favorite band since I was 12. I loathe anything they did after 1997, but I love the first two albums so much that I’m certified obsessed. Message-board obsessed. They’re playing a secret show at the all-ages venue I work and basically live at, and today is the day I will tell guitarist Brian Bell that he was my junior-high crush. I will tell him this with a bite of burrito in my mouth, and I will never regret it because it will be the most surreal moment of all time.
I’m 12. My K-8 offers a Friday night ski bus for middle-schoolers, which means I get to spend three winters of my life snowboarding weekly with all of my friends. Everything happens on ski bus: make-outs, breakups, concussions, Red Bull overdoses. This might be the most fun I will ever have.
I’m 19. Ski bus totally might still be the most fun I’ve ever had.
I’m 12, or 16, or 20 or 50 or 90. I spend all rare moments of sun on the shores of Lake Washington, where on a clear day the mountain is out and it will literally melt anyone into a puddle. Lots of life happens there: it’s where I take my friends for drunk swims off the dock on summer nights, where I have opened many a bottle of wine with my bare hands because I’m a teenage animal. It’s where I spent every hot day of the year at Madison Beach since I was five years old. It’s where my mom and I take my dog for rehabilitating swims after the life-threatening knee surgery he got when he was seven. It gives me so much, and it is my favorite.
Nothing was perfect and everything was what it was supposed to be. I got to be a teenager in a beautiful place. Now, I thank everything. ♦