*Written while on a red eye to JFK*
It may have been a little naive of me to expect Tom Hanks to be in Seattle, waiting patiently since the early 90’s for me to show up and knock on the door of his houseboat. But the sleepless delirium of a six-hour, 8:00 a.m.-departing flight combined with the disturbingly fresh Pacific Northwest air tricked me into thinking that I might be welcomed to this city by Mr. Sleepless in Seattle himself. Sadly, it appears he’s moved forward with his life, I assume to New York City to live with and send mail to Meg Ryan. I suppose I’ll have to settle for Patrick Dempsey.*
*I should note that by the end of the trip, I had come to the disturbing revelation that neither Patrick Dempsey nor the rest of the cast of Grey’s Anatomy lives in Seattle. Let’s just call it one of the greater letdowns of my entire life and move on.
I’ve dreamt about visiting Seattle the way that little kids dream of visiting Disney World, the way that MLK Jr. dreamt of… you know what? Maybe let’s not drag MLK Jr. into this metaphor. As a teenager, I settled on caffeine as a drug of choice due to my young desire to be rebellious combined with my complete unawareness that hard drugs even existed. Coffee it was. And since then, I’ve dreamt of making my own personal pilgrimage to the Coffee Capitol of America. And here it finally was.
Two cappuccinos and one lunch later, I had been in Seattle for a total of 5 hours when my sister and I decided that we better come up with new names for our crunchy, hipster, eco-friendly Seattle alter-egos. Sarah Biggart morphed into the tree-hugging, fedora-wearing Bryar; Susan Biggart became the heavily-tattooed, perpetual hiker Willow; and I became Maple.
Maple is my opposite in every way. She makes her own granola, has multiple gift cards to REI, and she can competently ride a bike. She is Seattle at her core. This is just one of the many bits that my sisters and I kept going all weekend long.
Seattle had everything to offer Maple, Willow and Bryar: beautiful mountain vistas, an epic selection of indie coffee shops, and the best hiking trails I’d ever seen. (Yes, I hiked this weekend, and boy do I have some things to say about it.)
A view from the Sky View Observatory and a dive bar in Capitol Hill later, Bryar, Willow and Maple (the biggest three since LeBron, Dwayne and Chris Bosh), were loving life in the big city. Friday morning would present one of the bigger challenges of the weekend. On Friday morning, we hiked.
Now, I’m going to include a quick PSA here that I think is relevant and important. If you’re like me, and you don’t like to hike, this should be helpful. Here’s what you need to know if you don’t like hiking:
- No amount of homemade trail mix will make it better. I, like many beginner hikers I assume, had imagined that the taste of blueberry-flavored granola would make the entire hike worthwhile. I was wrong. No amount of dried mango will make the hike easier or more fun during.
- You shouldn’t do it if you haven’t worked out in a while. This is something I would’ve like to know before the hike started. If you haven’t exercised in a while, hiking is not going to be a breeze. Unless it’s one of those “hikes” where you just walk across a wooded trail (the only hike I’ve ever been on before), you will be ill-equip for hiking. Take it from me, it’s not worth the Instagram
- Don’t be a hero. This one’s a biggie. If you aren’t a natural born hiker, don’t chug along silently, counting the seconds down until you get to the top. It will take longer than you think.
- People in the west greatly underestimate the word “beginner.” I’m calling bull on these “beginner” hiking trails. They’re not for beginners. Beginners should really be on that flat wooded trail I mentioned earlier.
- The endorphin high of reaching the top and the easy decline of the way back down will make you want to hike again. DON’T DO IT. This one is self-explanatory and very important. On the way back down from the hike, the Instagram likes will start pouring in and you will start to convince yourself that this whole experience was worth it. Fight that.
That’s my advice for all you beginner hikers. Godspeed, and please never try and convince me to go hiking ever again.
The rest of the weekend contained a trendy tapas restaurant, a ferry boat ride to Bainbridge, Washington (I checked the entire cabin, Derek Shepherd was not on this ferry boat), and more sushi than I knew what to do with. By the time my last day came I couldn’t believe my trip was over.
My Sunday afternoon fulfilled all of the Sunday stereotypes- full of that special kind of lament that only comes from not wanting the responsibilities of Monday morning to arrive. I sat out on the water in Gas Works Park, not far from where my sister lives. From high atop a hill in this park I could see everything laid out before me: the entire city of Seattle, the Sky View Observatory I visited three days earlier, and (in the distance) Tom Hanks’ houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle. I didn’t want to leave. This moment was so distinctly Seattle: the subtle smell of weed drifted over from a mysterious location, the sun shined bright on Lake Union, and standing like a massive flagpole on the city skyline was the Seattle Space Needle, from which a Gay Pride flag hung at half mast.
I didn’t want to leave this city and Maple definitely didn’t want to leave. I’m on my flight now, headed back to the East Coast, and all that awaits me upon my arrival is an empty house. What am I going to miss most about Seattle, you ask? Honestly, I’m still reeling from the loss of Patrick Dempsey.
(If anyone has any info on his current location, it would be much appreciated. I mean this in the least creepy way possible, of course.)
P.S. It appears, in one of the greatest ploys ever to get someone to be a contestant on their show, ABC followed me to Seattle and held an open casting call for contestants for next season of The Bachelor on the same weekend I visited. After serious consideration and a few glasses of red wine, I decided that what is best for me and my family at this time is for me me to take a year off and defer. One day, ABC. Maybe one day.