Last week, before attending a special event near Seattle (more on that later), I had an opportunity to spend a quick 24 hours in the city. It was the strangest sensation returning as a visitor to a place I used to call home.
As I rode the light rail from the airport into downtown and the metro bus from downtown to stay with a friend, I took in all of the familiar sights that were such an integral part of my Seattle experience. Tall, narrow evergreens that flirted with the blue skies overhead. Charming Craftsman homes interspersed with modern constructions of concrete, steel, and glass dotting the hilly slopes. Chic cafés where savvy coffee-drinkers sat outdoors at bistro tables people-watching passersby.
This was the life I had wanted.
Much of the city felt familiar, but the past nine months brought some significant updates to the cityscape. The former Safeco Field, home to the Seattle Mariners baseball team, is now called T-Mobile Park. Instead of the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct to route cars around the city’s downtown area, there’s now a tunnel to take you beneath it.
The biggest change for me was knowing that someone else was probably living in my West Seattle apartment. Saddled with my travel backpack while I walked around the city, it felt strange knowing that less than a year ago, I had a place of my own in one of the finest cities in the world. Now, I am merely a tourist.
If I’m being honest, I was nervous heading into this visit. It was the first time I’ve visited Seattle since I chose to return to the East Coast in late 2018. With my mom getting older, I’d begun to feel less and less comfortable living a whole country away from her. In spite of the virtue of choosing family above personal wants, choosing to move back to New Jersey was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I wasn’t sure if spending time in Seattle this time around would bring up some of the initial hesitation and heartbreak I felt when making the decision. While I loved revisiting the city, I was surprised to discover a deep sense of contentment about the outcome of the difficult choice I made and about where I am in my life right now, both geographically and emotionally.
Do I miss living in Washington? Definitely. However, I’ve never been more confident that I did the right thing for myself and for my family. I’m so terribly happy to be closer to my mom at a time when she needs me most.
Will I continue to visit Seattle? Heck, yeah. It’s a place that’s now sunk deep in my blood and bones, and I’ll never forget the nearly six amazing years I had the privilege of calling it my home, but I’m thrilled to be where I am right now, content in whatever comes next.