On April 1st, 1991 I left my apartment in Portland, Oregon and headed north on Interstate 5 to my new home, Seattle. It was a move I was excited to make because I felt a connection to Seattle and the area that I never was able to quite make in Portland. Having grown up in the Bay Area, I think there are many similarities between it and Seattle, so I always felt very comfortable in Seattle whenever I visited the city.
I first visited Seattle as a young boy in 1973 – between 2nd and 3rd grade. My family took a vacation to the Northwest, driving from the Bay Area to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where we were to visit relatives. At the time it also sounded like my Dad was going to be transferred to Seattle, so we actually thought we were going to move to the area. The trip left an impression as amazingly, I was able to recall neighborhoods we visited in Kirkland/Juanita (while doing casual house hunting as a family) years later when I moved there. I also remember checking out Pike Street Market and of course, the Space Needle. I remember liking Seattle and thinking even back then that it would be a cool area to live.
My next visit to the city came in 1981 when it hosted the National Square Dance convention. My parents were big time into square dancing and had a number of friends through their local club. Those friends all had kids as well, so it was common for us to take these giant group vacations somewhere. I was excited to check out a baseball game in the Kingdome – the idea of baseball indoors just seemed bizarre (and still does). But due to the baseball strike that season, I was unable to do so (that experience had to wait until I officially moved to the area). But again, I loved the area and wondered what it would be like to live here.
I finally got the opportunity to really experience the city when I was in college at Oregon and found myself with a girlfriend who was a UW Husky gymnast. We kept things pretty casual while in school because I wasn’t really into long distance relationships but I would visit her every so often and spent a lot more time in Seattle during the summer, when she stayed in the city for summer classes and later after graduation, when I was working in Portland. It was through those visits where I really got to explore the city, learn about the neighborhoods, parks and eccentricities that make Seattle so special.
Alas, the girlfriend didn’t last but my love for Seattle endured. So when Waggener Edstrom (the PR agency I was working for at the time) decided to open a Bellevue office and I was invited to be part of the building team in early 1991, I jumped at the opportunity. And from the moment I arrived, I loved living here. The timing was great too. Microsoft was still a young company, and very much the center of the technology universe and smaller software companies were starting in its shadows – so the tech industry was in its infancy but drawing lots of smart, talented young professionals to the region. And of course the early 90s ushered in the era of Grunge music – and Seattle was suddenly the center of the music world as well.
In 1992 I quit my job at Waggener Edstrom because I longed for an adventure and decided to ride my bicycle across Europe. That experience is a topic for another blog post (or book), but suffice to say it was life-defining (to say the least). But one thing that struck me – even after seeing so many beautiful cities and areas in Europe, I realized how spoiled I was living in Seattle.
Seattle means so many things to me. Not only is it an incredibly beautiful place to live, but I also love the people and personality of the area. I know some transplants complain that Seattlites are cold, distant and unwelcoming to newcomers and/or outsiders, but I never found this to be the case personally. I do think that residents tend to be a little more reserved and may not be as outgoing as other areas, but I also think the people here are more down-to-earth and less superficial than other areas. I’ve made a number of close friends in Seattle – more here actually than I did the 8 years I was back in my home state – and countless business contacts and colleagues. As a matter of fact, that is one of my favorite aspects of Seattle – it’s incredibly easy to network here professionally. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Seattle Social Media Club chapter is one of the largest in the country (or that our area is one of the “Most social networked”) – its kind of in the local DNA.
There is so much more I can say and share about my feelings and experiences here in Seattle but I’ll save that for other posts. For now I just want to say how happy I am to call this area home – and how much I’m looking forward to the next 20 years. And to celebrate this milestone, I’ll be hosting a “Seattle-versary” happy hour and tweet up with an open invitation to all friends, associates, contacts, Tweeters or others who want to celebrate living here in this special area. So mark your calendar for Friday, April 21st – location still TBD (I hope to announce Monday).