I’m not exactly sure what would be the best way for me to express my current feelings about us. I know it would seem more sincere in person, but when we’re together, everything is a whirlwind of emotions and the time just goes right by. Now that I’m temporarily away and have had a moment to consider what these past four years have meant to me, I figured a letter would be best because I mean for these words to be lasting.
I’ll admit that I was hesitant at first. You’re known for your strong initial attraction, an allure that so many find hard to resist, and that was no different for me. Coming from a place where the ground is flat for miles and all of the natural colors seem to be a variation of mustardy tan, you appeared in the mist as the exact opposite. You effortlessly offered every shade of green, from artichoke to olive, in the thick vines that hang from your freeway overpasses and the common lawn grasses that seem straight from Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Overwhelming plant life seems to be everywhere with you, transforming any vacant lot from concrete into a majestic array of laurel and nettles seemingly overnight. Our first week together, lying among the Rhododendron eating Aplets and Cotlets, I’ll always remember it exactly.
And at first I cursed the surrounding mountains, the ones that stop the clouds from moving along and blocking out the sun, which seems to be your greatest catch. But after a few years, those constant drizzles began to feel like a warm wool sweater, one size too big; comfortingly familiar and just for us. It was then that I began to welcome the complaints from outsiders, because you’re a place not for everybody. You’re a place meant to me to be examined, savored, and endured, your highs and lows ridden like a wave.
Since I’ve been gone, it’s clear that I’ve been taking you for granted; the ease of finding Lighthouse brand coffee on any morning, bumping into the Than Bros for some soup, or being in such close proximity to a desert, ocean, rain forest, and active volcano, all within a few hours away. Oddly, I found myself even missing your objectionable traits; your curious anything goes fashion that allows a fully grown adult to have a bright pink Mohawk without attracting a second glance, and your compelling social discourse that sometimes cripples you from taking any action whatsoever. I’m more than willing to accept these things that make you what you are. I can now see that I’ve changed considerably since being with you. I choose my pronouns very wisely in conversation, drive a dependable car, and have somehow accumulated enough camping gear for three people.
Ultimately, I feel like I finally know the real you, the part that only a person who has acclimated to you truly appreciates once they're over your Gum Wall, and your fish-tossing market, your grunge remnants, and your tech wisecracks. And I knew it when we were in the tatami room at Maneki, eating an unparalleled selection of Japanese cuisine while seated next to an anarchist and a guy who makes GIFs for the Internet. You’re the place where America's wealthiest person and groups of ever-changing transient street teens choose to live within a short Car 2 Go trip from each other. The place where a love letter may very well read like a list of backhanded compliments but is actually quite sincere, directly influenced by your social quirk many refer to as “the Seattle Freeze.” And it’s here that I can finally come out and say that I love you, the place that I choose to call home.
Seattle artist Derek Erdman’s vibrant work borrows from the moving spotlight of popular attention. An expert at harnessing the special hype-magic of the internet, Erdman’s work has been featured in Print Magazine, The Believer, US Weekly, and The New Yorker. He moonlights as the receptionist at Sub Pop Records.
Portrait by Shannon Perry
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