The Goodbye is an occasional series about women leaving a place behind. Are you moving and feeling nostalgic? Fill out this form, and you could be part of the series.
The Emerald City was not what I expected.
A newly minted college graduate, I moved there in 2015. And instead of Los Angeles traffic and the desert heat, I was met with lush greens and the Puget Sound hugging a quirky, growing city.
Everyone kept telling me how great Seattle was – the romantic rain, the great coffee, how they composted. But I found the rain too somber, the coffee overpriced, and the composting... well, that was fine.
The truth was I missed Los Angeles. After all, it was where I went to school and the city that raised me from a country girl to a city dweller. I missed my friends and my community. I missed the sun and excellent Mexican food. It didn’t help that I decided to move into a basement studio in November. That basement flooded twice and my heart truly, never adjusted to the gloom. Coupled with the Seattle freeze and the melancholy that follows those who move, I was over it.
I was convinced that I didn’t like Seattle, and Seattle didn’t like me. Or so I narrated.
But within a year, I had moved out of that basement and into a new home in the Central District with great housemates. I started volunteering with Young Women Empowered (Y-WE) and met a stunning network of incredible women I called friends and mentors. I left behind a string of jobs to focus on journalism. That year, I landed my first byline and my first cover story.
The Pacific Northwest showed me that water can make things grow, including a person.
Three years later, I’m leaving to continue my own personal growth. I took a job with a local NPR station and will be living in the Yakima Valley now. I’ll cover anything related to central Washington, from immigration to wildfires.
But frankly, it’s a little terrifying. I’ve moved almost every year since I was 18, and that pattern doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I have few roots. The ones I do have grew in Los Angeles, only to be replanted in Seattle, and now those too are resettling.
I am nervous for change but I am confident in metamorphosis.
Seattle, our relationship has been tumultuous, but I know you loved me because you gave me the best part of my new life: A community I could count on (and the ability to shine in rainboots half of the year).
I will miss you, you strange and beautiful city.
Your green was the first sanctuary I knew in this city. Despite the gray, your trails brought comfort and walking them brought me the greatest peace possible. I wrote many poems in Seward Park and learned to ride my bike again around its old growth trees.
Cortona and Cafetal Quilombo became my two favorite coffee shops, despite my previous complaints. Your coffee was divine, but your people are why I came back every time. Cortona was near home in the Central District, and Cafetal Quilombo in Beacon Hill also had some of the best tamales known to Seattle.
I will always remember how proud I was to work downtown that first fall. How cool I felt taking the bus during rush hour thinking, “I work here. I live here!” One day, I will come back just to walk the streets a la Carrie Bradshaw again.
You taught me that a beach doesn’t need to be in southern California or Florida to be beautiful. I’ll miss the lovers holding hands and the tourists with their cameras. I’ll miss the incredible view of the city across the Sound. A Seattle summer truly is a sight to see.
Every year, I faithfully bought my birthday cake at the Salvadorean Bakery. Now where will I get it? I hope your pupusas always stay fresh and your prices always stay low.
I will miss the rainbow crosswalks and the incredible street style in Capitol Hill. I will miss getting dolled up to dance at Neighbors or R Place with my friends, only for us to end up at the pizza joint across the street.
I thank my lucky stars that a community found me and took me in with so much trust. Mentoring and volunteering at Y-WE were fundamental to my formation as a woman and feminist. I hope I can always reach back and connect with you powerhouses.
My last goodbye is the hardest – a sweet farewell to the Chateau, where I lived with friends that made you a home. You were not just an old house. You were a haven for travelers, artists, students – and me. And because of that home, I am a better writer, friend and human. I hope I gave more than I took and I promise to carry that spirit wherever I go (also, please don’t ever change the WiFi password).
Visiting Seattle? Find Esmy’s recommendations mapped out here.
Going somewhere? Check out other installments from our travel series: