I’ve been wrestling with a cold this week. I started to type “head cold,” but then I realized that it was only a head cold for part of that time, and while the unbelievable amounts of snot still coming out of my face are technically located in my head, my head is not what’s making me the most miserable. Whenever I’m sick or in pain or uncomfortable, I always tell myself that when I am better, I will be sure to fully appreciate how okay I feel. But then I always forget, because for some reason, despite years of evidence and education to the contrary, I have fooled myself into thinking that feeling good is normal and therefore not extraordinary enough to remember. So in a few days when I can suddenly breathe again without hacking some R’lyeh-style shit out of my chest, someone please remind me that I’ve got it good, okay?
Anyway. I got the market, grocery shopping, and CSA-portioning done before noon today, which means that I now get to sit around and do not a lot of anything except be sick. Which is kind of a bummer. Normally I’m fine with staying at home by myself, but being sick makes me feel restless, and since we finally got some rain yesterday, I’m ready to appreciate the sun that’s currently poking out.
Plus I really like walking around my neighborhood. Actually, let’s refine that. Guys, I fucking LOVE my neighborhood. I love it so much that the only thing driving me to anxiety about it is that my landlord might decide to sell the building (or, more accurately, the land beneath the building) to condo developers and we’ll be out on our asses. We have no reason to believe this will happen, but since this is Seattle and condos flare up like herpes after spring break, Graham and I are both living in a kind of low-grade fear that the greatest place that ever happened to us will suddenly disappear after only a year.
We really, really hope that we get to stay here for more than a year. I really, really hope that I don’t have to pack up the house and start looking for places and charm property owners again, and that I can finally stop having these fucking dreams about moving. Do you know what it’s like to dream about moving every night? It’s fucking exhausting. And it’s fucking terrifying, as well, when the dreams are about moving back to St. Louis, because in every one of them I have the thought “why the fuck did I ever leave Seattle?!”
The only reason I can come up with that would ever drive us from Seattle is how much it costs to live here. Seattle is one of the most expensive cities in America, and although the cost of living is somewhat mitigated by the pay scale (although, ahem, I made more money and paid way less rent in St. Louis) and no state income tax, it’s going up all the time just as the spaces to live in are disappearing. Well. I suppose those spaces are being built if you want to use to condos as an example, but most of those are still partially empty because they’re overpriced even by Seattle standards. So we’ve discussed where we’d move if we ever got priced out. Back to St. Louis is not an option, so we’ve batted around Portland and Santa Fe. Portland would probably be the front-runner since it’s not too far from Seattle or our two favorite parts of the Pacific Northwest – mountains and water. It’s weird sometimes to reflect that I spent most of my life surrounded by relatively flat land and now feel…well, kind of incomplete if I don’t know the mountains and water are nearby.
That’s part of why I love Ballard so much. Historically, Ballard is a Scandinavian fishing village that was absorbed by the expanding city of Seattle in 1907, although to listen to lifelong Ballard residents tell it, it’s always been its own little city.
It maintains a lot of its old character, too, and not just in the way of those super annoying “FREE BALLARD” bumper stickers (um, congratulations on never leaving the same neighborhood for 30 years, ya fuckin’ loser?). In addition to Swedish and Norwegian flags hung right alongside American ones from front porches, the architecture is very Scandinavian in design. Lots of peaked roofs, lots of clapboard, and everything points to the water. Even the newer build in Ballard still leans heavily towards a seaside aesthetic, making it feel like a beachside community. And I guess it kind of is, since Shilshole Bay is a 5-minute walk down the street and the beach at Golden Gardens is less than a mile away.
Fishing is still a major operation for Ballard, with most of the salty old dudes in the salty old dude bars having worked on boats for most of their lives. Many of the boats from the show “The Deadliest Catch” dock in Ballard during the off-season, and my favorite part of my morning commute is reading the names from the hulls as the bus crosses over the Ballard Bridge.
While we pay a significant amount of money to live in Ballard, it’s comparable to most of Seattle (and still less than Capitol Hill, for god’s sake) and I’m aware that I’m buying myself a certain standard of living. It’s safe here. I can walk everywhere. The amount of trails, parks, cafés, bars, and terrific local businesses is well above and beyond anything I could have had in St. Louis, at least in terms of not having to drive or fear for my safety as I travel to and from them. Plus there’s an actual sense of community that I’d been worried about leaving behind in the Midwest. People in Ballard like being in Ballard. They like staying here and nurturing their community. And I’d rather pay more money for that and less money for things, any day, even on the ones where I’m stuck inside with my hacking and my snot and my self-pity.