Well, we are back from our whirlwind tour of Seattle. It was a great weekend, and we managed to escape The Glove at the border, despite the distinct feeling that one is being watched and suspected at every turn. I got to do almost everything I wanted… the gaping exception was to see the Dave Matthews Band at The Gorge, but it was impractical and I eventually got over it, almost. What we did do, however, could fill numerous blogs, and probably will, eventually. Really, there is blog material everywhere you look.
Downtown Seattle is much like any other big city: tall buildings, funky districts, homeless people, plenty of camera-weilding tourists. The Pike Street Market was the distinguishing feature of Seattle. We found a few souvenirs, and our friend and esteemed travelling companion, we shall call him MT, bought a ridiculously heavy case of genuine composite 11 ounce poker chips, which he proceeded to carry, uncomplainingly, around Seattle for the rest of the day. I was convinced he would leave it somewhere by accident, but not only did it make it back to the hotel (via public transit), but we tested the contents in a rousing game of Texas Hold’em, at the end of which I, with one minor loan from T, walked off with the grand, winner-take-all prize, All The Glory. Interestingly enough, I managed to beat four guys, (I memorized the order of the hands on the bus ride home), despite MT’s aspirations to professional poker playing (he’s thinking of an LOA from his day job). Not bad for a chick, huh?
Other highlights of the trip: some touristy sightseeing, the requisite Shopping (not that I found that much to write home about) and a wedding, which, although aspects of it will be another post, was a fun affair, with a happy couple, a very nice triple ceremony, a rollicking speech by my own socially-anxious husband (of whom I have never been prouder, as he pulled it off, brilliantly, and with a minimum of alcohol on board), a nice sit-down dinner, plenty of dancing, and some colourful family dynamics.
As enjoyable as the trip was, I am glad to be home. I enjoy travelling, having adventures, experiencing new things. But every minute way from home, especially when it passes in a foreign country, makes me appreciate what I have here. What I have here is, among other things, neighbours who can’t necessarily buy fireworks and discount ammunition at roadside stands (and believe me, I have some neighbours who would definitely use that power for evil, not good), and I feel safer for that. I have quality, reliable health care that I can afford whether I am employed or not (even though the country itself can’t). I have affordable housing in a nice neighbourhood (well, except for the aforementioned freaky neighbours). I can get to work in 30 or 40 minutes without taking my life in my hands on a freeway (which doesn’t seem all that much faster to me at rush hour anyway). My city has a drug problem that is relatively incognito (which means I am not often confronted by tripping acid freaks peeking suspiciously from behind newspapers held close enough to smudge newsprint on their noses). Of course, I also have higher taxes, a repressive society which will not allow me to buy my beer at the supermarket, and an apathetic voting public (with no real political choices anyway).
I guess what I am trying to say is that I am glad to be Canadian. I am glad to live where I do. I expect that, based on reactions from some of the people I met this weekend, that we come across as smalltown hicks. Maybe we are. We do a fair amount of (justifiable) grumbling about the weather. But, I am smart, I am educated. My husband and I are professionals, employable probably anywhere. But we stay, and we manufacture reasons for staying. Good jobs, low cost of living, close family support. Whatever.
I am quite willing to acknowledge that it may be merely a function of familiarity and discomfort (if not fear) of the unknown, but I feel safer here than in any other (of the very few) countries I have been in. And raising my kids in an environment where I feel safe counts for a lot. Would I feel safer if I spent more time there (wherever “there” is)? Probably. Am I willing to trade my life here for the unknown? I don’t think I am that adventurous, at least not at this point. I admire those who do take the plunge and pull up stakes hoping for greener grass (our weekend’s groom, and my sister are two successful examples). As much as I bitch and moan about wanting some excitment in my life, my overwhelmingly Canadian inertia keeps me where I am comfortable. Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face? Probably again. Would I rule out some true risk? Hell no. Just not right now. Ask me in ten years. I’ll probably come up with the same answer, but at least I’ll have had ten years to manufacture some more good reasons to stay put.