07 January, 2009

35,000 feet above my life

Asynchronous blogging here. At 35,000 feet, I’m bouncing around in a rather turbulent flight from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, hopefully not stopping in either body. Listening to the entire collection of The Rolling Stones on shuffle, and the feeling that this aircraft that is “neither here nor there” is a good metaphor for how I feel about my lives in Seattle and Boston at this particular moment.

Most of the time, I feel like I never want to leave Seattle. But that’s probably because most of the time, I am in Seattle, connected to all the things that I have either created or joined in the past almost 10 years. But I come back to Boston, and suddenly, connections that span 30+ years of my life pop open like spring flowers that don’t bloom seasonally, but instead blossom when I land back in this life every so often. And it becomes very difficult for me to even compare the two worlds. I know that it is not necessary for me to do so. Nobody has said “Can you compare and contrast for me the lives you have in these two places?” It’s just something I feel compelled to do.

Save for the one connection that came with me 10 years ago from the East to the West, it feels like everything in Seattle is just a little closer to the surface than what is left behind in Boston. I am being careful to choose my words there. I am not saying “shallow” or “deep” or “superficial” because there are so many value judgments that people typically attach to those terms, and I do not wish to risk or inadvertently allow for those interpretations to be made. Closer to the surface, I guess, means that I became much of who I am before I arrived here. And the people in Boston (plus one) were stirred in that molding pot that defined most of who I am today. It’s like archaeology. Okay, no it’s not. That’s a horrible analogy. Let’s see. What is it like? I guess it’s like a flower garden. The Boston world comprises the soil, and some of the perennials that persist. The Seattle life is everything that has since been planted, or blossomed in that fertile soil. Many rich and beautiful things are new, but they develop upon who I already am. Is that a better metaphor? Or did that one suck too?

Seattle scares me sometimes because I feel like it is transient… not completely secure. Most of the people I have come to know here are people who moved here from somewhere else. And many of them have left, or will leave, for somewhere else. I have seen no fewer than four sets of very close friends leave here. Some came back, and then eventually left again. Some came back, but not close enough to be back in my life. Some may one day return, but it is unclear. Those bonds were growing, and were absolutely essential parts of my week-to-week life here. And then they’re pulled apart, made far more complicated by distance. 

People do ask me, “So, do you think you’ll ever move back to Boston?”

And it used to be that my answer was flat out, “No.”

But lately, I have at least felt compelled to ask the question of myself, “What is keeping me in Seattle?”

And there are very specific things that keep me here – reasons that I could not imagine myself leaving. But what if any of those things were to change? Then what? If one of those things were to change, how would it shift my thinking? If two of them were to change? When does the connection to a past that, no matter how far away, contains deeply rooted relationships, outweigh the reasons that would remain for my staying here? Of course, the other possibility is that I would decide neither A nor B, but move ever forward to some new destination. Europe? Canada? Portland? 

I suspect I am just feeling nostalgic about Boston right now, due to it being my first social visit in well over a year. And at the same time, I am feeling disillusioned about Seattle because of some turmoil that is currently hanging in clouds over my life there. I planted some seeds in recent years, and the plants that grew did not flourish, even though they initially bore fragrant, colorful petals. And the remains leave the soil a bit acidic. But I suppose that this will slowly be churned and turned and rejuvenated through natural processes. 

Maybe the real lesson here is that I should choose to revisit these deep connections with my former home more frequently than once a year. It does not require a plane ride to stay close to people, and to remain in touch. 

But still, that simple solution does not seem to do it for me.


  1. I think that you belong among the wildflowers.

    Perhaps it's important to not just frolic amongst the vibrant blossoms one plants, but make sure you have some nice native mosses or ferns in there, too. And little evergreen bushes that stay beautiful and lush year-round, though they may not be as showy as other species... Heathers actually make very attractive perennials.

  2. Is this before or after I showed you the surreal botany book? Either way - some coincidence. Perhaps you could write a surreal botany article about yourself as a Seattlite and yourself as a Bostonian?