Tuesday, November 8

City life

Our move to Seattle intimidated me. There was some excitement, yes, for a larger job market offering employment in fields I was trained in and for the possibilities of visiting art house movie theaters and attending concerts I was interested in, but mostly there was intimidation. It was a city, not even among the top twenty largest in the United States, but a city none the less. Contemplating it was overwhelming. To get most anywhere, you would have to enter the freeway. There would be stop lights on every road. There would two major professional sports teams, four if you count men's soccer and women's basketball. Not more than five miles away there would be a university with lecture halls that could hold my entire hometown and have seats to spare for the people of Williams.

And then we moved here, and it wasn't so bad. Where I live, a largely residential neighborhood, traffic is well confined to just a few, peripheral roads and leave everything else fairly quiet. There is plenty of green space, so the urbanity doesn't press in and subsume you. It's been surprisingly slow and peaceful.

For these reasons friends have called Seattle a "small city," which I can see the truth of, but the easy pace, I believe, is more due to the small life I live here than anything small about the city. I wake up. I might run the same route I have since the day I arrived. I return to the apartment and wash. I check my email and the Internet. I cook dinner. I read and write. I take the bus to work downtown five days a week. I come back and sleep. I buy my groceries at Safeway and QFC when an ingredient is missing. I might visit a Barnes & Noble, but I prefer two independent bookstores on the same block. That's pretty much it. That is my schedule, my life. My night shifts bear some blame for the smallness of it all as I'm awake when everything else is closed and everyone else is asleep, but it is a small life. Perhaps it will change when I can transfer to a day shift, but for now I don't go to either the theatre or the theater, I don't catch concerts, I don't stroll downtown, I don't visit parks except the one opposite my apartment building. Is there much more frustrating than to have all of this opportunity available, browsing the culture listings of the weekly newspapers and seeing all of the restaurants and galleries and museums and everything else that there is to do, and not doing them because the timing is too difficult and it's too much trouble to figure the bus routes and times and it's just easier to do the same few things that I have figured out?

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