Okay, folks, so I live in Seattle now. Mostly.
I’ll have an apartment starting on Friday, but I won’t spend a night in it until Sunday following a weekend-extraction mission for my stuff down in the Rose City. That aside, I somehow managed to find a reasonably (for the area) priced 1-bedroom literally across the street from the office and just a block away from the Bellevue Library, which, let me tell you, is by far the fanciest library I have ever seen with my god-given eyes.
Spending a week in a new place with the knowledge that it’s soon going to be your place is very different than spending a week in a new place with the knowledge that you’re just there visiting. Instead of looking out for potential things to do in the moment, tonight, or tomorrow, you’re looking for potential routines. You’re thinking, “What would my life be like if I sat in this spot five times a week for the foreseeable future?” You’re wondering what that place will mean to you in two years, five years, ten(?) years.
You’re not just thinking about the spot as it is, either, you’re thinking, “If I choose to adopt this spot, and make it my spot, how will I truly make it mine. What will differentiate this chair, this table, this park bench from the others around it so that it is my chair, my table, my bench.”
You wonder how many other people have had the same thought about this very spot and you are struck by the history of potential in every chair in every room. By how many people before me have envisioned their lives passing by from this view of NE 10th Street. By how many of those lives have already been lived.
As you stand there, stopped in your tracks by the narrative weight of every imagined schoolchild, grandmother, and new parent who has settled into, regularly, on schedule, this very chair. How even as they’ve gotten older and left so many of their childish habits behind, they never abandoned this spot. Very little remains of the them that first sat down on this particular patch of blue upholstery, and in a way, the chair is more a part of their history than their own childhood. And as they sit there one last time, before going off to college, or the military, or some job, they wonder what they’re leaving behind in this inexplicable moment.
You think this with every place you go, staggered by the weight of the millions of lives lived and not lived. Unable to truly comprehend that anywhere you attach significance to, here, has already meant more to so many others who you will never know. Perhaps even more daunting is how this first impression will color your everyday life. Because that’s where routine comes from, right?
In its own moment, the significance isn’t there at all. You have a nice meal or maybe a brief but pleasant interaction with a stranger, then go about your day without thinking too much about it. But the next time you’re on that block, you find yourself walking in again, remembering your last time there. You notice the stool you were in is open, so why not sit there again? It worked last time, right? You’re maybe a little bit aware that this is how things start, that you’re developing a habit, but there are so many more things and places and spots to try out that you couldn’t possibly be committing to anywhere yet.
But then it’s somewhere you know, so when you meet someone new, or when someone old comes to visit, you take them there knowing they’re likely to have a nice time, just like you always do. Just like you allways do there. Maybe just like you allways will.