I've never really visited a city before, with the knowledge that it's going to be my future home.
When we landed in Los Angeles, in was a case of WHAM BAM! Welcome to your new home for the next however many years. NOW. You're here. NOW. What are your first impressions?
Many years earlier, it was a similar story when we arrived in London - except we were much younger, child-free, and had zero responsibilities. We hopped off the plane, blinking in delirium from the combination of jet lag and the excitement of being in a new country, far, far away. By the time work opportunities later took us to Brighton (still in the UK), and then to Melbourne, neither of those cities were unfamiliar to us. We'd visited, but long before the possibility of living in either destination had been on the cards.
In a way, my first time in Seattle - thirteen years ago - was like Brighton and Melbourne. I'd enjoyed the city, but viewed it through the filter of casual detachment that someone has when they believe they're just passing through.
Over the recent Memorial weekend, the girls and I made our second trip to Seattle for the year, and stayed for four days. This business of moving our family north has felt like an incredibly drawn out affair, so I was keen to try and convince myself that I was home.
To try Seattle on for size, and see how it fit. How it felt. How it tasted and smelled.
Trying Seattle on for size meant shrugging my shoulders each morning when I woke and noticed the grey skies and wet ground. It meant purchasing a quality rain jacket from REI (see? no umbrella... just like a local), and watching the girls splash in puddles and round up snails. It meant eating maple bacon donut-flavoured frozen yoghurt, and drinking the best damn coffee I've had since we moved to the US more than three years ago (not Starbucks, thank you). It meant setting foot inside our home-to-be, thanks to the kind tenants still residing there, and envisioning where our furniture will go.
Trying Seattle on for size meant noting the differences, and appreciating its beauty. The zig-zagging horizon in every direction, courtesy of the endless parade of firs, spruces, pines and cedars. The wild daisies, and red and yellow poppies that grow in abundance beside the freeway ramps. The fifty million shades of green... everywhere.
I tried Seattle on, and I think I'm going to love it there. I do. I'm impatient to get this move over with, so I can start this next chapter.
There is a 'but' coming, though. I'd be foolish to deny the place that sunshine, warm weather and blue skies hold in my heart. After four days of grey skies, on/off rain and layered clothing, I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel some relief to be wearing Havaianas and summery clothes again.
I'm torn, so I want to acknowledge that. I love the friends we've made in Los Angeles, and I love the sunshine... but I miss J, and I'm counting the days until the four of us are living under one roof again. I love how happy he is with his new job because he truly deserves it. I know that overall, things are going to be better for us in Seattle. I'm looking forward to this summer, so that the girls and I can explore the city properly, with adventures on buses and ferries.
Right now, though? Now. I feel as though half my heart is stuck in L.A, and the other half has jumped out and run to Seattle.
A Havaiana on one foot, a boot on the other... it's just as well I have long legs, then.
* I'd like to proudly point out that due to the I-can't-be-bothered-factor (and watermarking aside), I've resisted editing all but two of the iPhone photos above. Seattle really is that green.