Seattle doesn’t look good in sunlight.

Seattle doesn’t look good in sunlight.

A non-native’s ten-month stay in the Emerald City Part I

We moved into our apartment in Seattle, Washington, on 1 January 2019 after living in an airbnb for about three weeks while we searched for said apartment, and we will move out of this place on 31 October 2019. Since I’ve been mentally checked out of here for about two months now (after a rousing experience with some Chinese “entrepreneurs” went sour quite quickly after discovering that the “management” had some serious “issues”), my mind is clearly revealing some of the theories its developed about this place, and one of them regards the rain.

We had lived in South Korea for the past five years, and upon our departure, moved to New Zealand. Our plan was to fly to Auckland and decide whether or not we would stay. Under the assumption that we would love it and want to live there (oh so badly), we booked departure flights ten weeks after our arrival, hoping that would be enough time to decide whether or not we would stay (and we booked that flight to Honolulu [a cheap destination from NZ, quite frankly, and cheap enough to flush if we did indeed stay {and we had to book outbound flights because we lacked visas for our arrival but can easily stay with US Passports for up to three months as visitors}]). Unfortunately, after about ten days, we realized that there was no fucking way we were going to stay there. As urbanites, willful city mice, Auckland was not enough of a city for us, and NZ as a whole is rural. Obviously, we knew this going into it, but we thought that there would at least be some character to the city, some culture, some anything. But alas, Auckland is a little baby city and will require quite a lot more time to really mature into something interesting, a place of real interest. And NZ really feels like the edge of the world, and we were wanting to stay connected, get reconnected.

These things I am saying about NZ may seem obvious to most of you, so just go ahead and call me The Idiot. Despite having about two months to burn in a place we didn’t want to stay (for us, meaning no longer wanting to spend our money in), we tried to make the most of it. I started a Meetup for writers and met a handful of people (one of whom was American, funnily enough) who were all very friendly and amicable but who lacked … ambition. Everyone was so content, and it was a beautiful thing to behold. Just not the place for us.

And so, we also spent many hours of those two months deciding where in the United States we were willing to live. After much debate, we settled on Seattle. The climate in Seoul is a sort of hellish nightmare-scape. I needed some relief from the bitter, biting, relentless cold of winter and the melting, muggy, suffocating weight of summer. Seattle is supposed to be temperate. Seattle is supposed to be gloomy. Seattle is supposed to be wet and rainy. Seattle is supposed to be mild. And it is, but it’s also way too sunny for its own good.

From what I can gather from strangers is that this past summer was unusually sunny. The last winter was unusually snowy as well. The temperatures and climate overall were more extreme this year than past years, which screams to me climate change, duh (and Seattle has supposedly made some major changes, but those changes are not being reflected in the cost of living). And so, to my theory.

Native Seattleans were born into a climate of rain and gloom. Sure there are sunny days but not like the ones of late. Thus, there is a certain air about them, a somber sort of goth depression and a “don’t give a fuck” kind of attitude. This demeanor and thereby aesthetic suits rainy days, the gloom and darkness of long stretches of overcast spitting-type rain very well, extremely well; the two came together out of the climate conditions of Seattle itself. In the bright light of a sun-filled day, the look is a bit heavy.

Seeing a Native Seattlean in broad, cloudless sunshine feels like seeing a turtle out of its shell; they look a bit naked, pale, white. And maybe they are all trying to soak up as much sun as they can, when they can, but the general aesthetic is not pleasing. The worst part, however, is the climate change. This past summer, Seattle felt like a place where there is a lot of sunshine, but the type of people who live in places with a lot of sunshine are not like the type of people who do not. Thus, there were a few instances of people who live in sunshine climates strutting around in Seattle during the height of summer, and even they looked out of place. Seattle’s climate forces people who exist within it to dress and thereby look a very strange way. There’s really no way to look good. Not that looking good is important or even worthy of something about which to be written.

Anyway, Seattle feels full (and I use “full” in comparison here as this city feels mostly empty, either dead or dying or preparing itself for a boom) of mostly people who have been shipped in for work in the tech sector. We have met few natives and we’ve met even fewer people our own age (everyone being either older or younger than us), yet everyone we see while walking around seems to be our age. And obviously, Seattle, too, feels like a little baby city with a little too much sprawl, expensive public transportation, and nothing to offer as far as the fun of “street culture” (street food, street fashion) is concerned.

It’s raining again after about two solid months of hot summer sunshine, and I’m excited and energized by the gloom that rainy weather brings. This is why we chose this place for our ten-month stay, after all. I cannot honestly admit that it has been nice, but it’s been whatever it is that this time was supposed to be. Is it someplace I would ever like to live again? No. Am I upset that I lived here during this time? No. My point is simply that Seattle looks good in the rain; the sunshine only highlights its flaws.