I moved into Seattle about four days ago and will be here for the next three or so months! Everything is immensely bumpy and my first Sunday touchdown bursted blisters on my feet. Breaking in wounds feels almost like the ritual of renewal.
I think about how five years ago, I never thought that I would be in the places I am now. I mean this in the physical sense moreso than the experiential — and I think that disconnect is what I’ve been reconciling with for decades. I know I was going to do good work in Manila, under the same familiar blistering sun that sets at 9PM in the Seattle evening as opposed to 4:30PM on the way home from school. I didn’t know that I would be tangibly placed so far from everything familiar–in a state where I know little to nothing but the companies situated here (Amazon, Microsoft) and some vague notes about my friends who go to school here but aren’t presently here (watching people take graduation photos in front of a W, trying to process how people live out four years of their lives here in less-than-four short months).
Living stagnant for 18 years and seeing little else than the same roadways messes up your sense of perception and wonder–at least it did for me. Suddenly I don’t know how to take things in. I still feel as naive as to think that I can absorb the history and atmosphere of every place I step foot in within moments–as if my footsteps can’t retrace the experiences of those who lived past; and I fall victim to the condescending pull of time who makes me feel as if I have the resource to spend another decade or so dwelling in something. I find it cruel suddenly that the world is so enormous, beautiful, and designed for us to stay sedentary. All I experience is framed through what I can bring back to Manila… teach to the people I’ve loved… I take the schools and thought and miraculous moments and hope to rekindle them in places that simply do not have the same structures to maintain this wonder. I underestimate the grandeur of place. The endless gratitude we give to the people who discover these lands, rediscover them, and have birthed them for those who dare reclaim it hundreds of years later.
Nothing is really mine. I stay in this city to feel it in for a few months, and perhaps that alone suffices. Inwards, I build my own city and kingdom. People are alive, unforgiving, relentless in the pursuit of living. Oftentimes this acts in direct disagreement with the nature of institutions: ever-so-grand, persistent, abiding of customs. Human nature is fundamentally against constants; thus life is about merely reducing the number of variables at play, thus ‘settling down’ in the traditional sense implies the creation of new life and til-death-do-us-part, thus we have broken a world that demanded more nurturing, still actors.
I wonder then, why prestige is distinguished by the volume and breadth of those who recognize us instead of the depth of singular being–almost omniscient of our efforts and worth?
Depth triumphs. I wish to be understood by one over all. The cities I love are run by those born in it, empathetic of every minute experience. Suddenly the bargain stores that frame the streets with signs that talk of their 24 years of running, the ever-changing and constantly-empty gardens, and the empty parking lots feel much more resonant with these cities than anything else designed to appeal to the nomad like me… where time is the most valuable resource, understanding how it has withered places in areas where it never feels the need to be unnaturally kempt.
I twist my ankles on the same hills that have long carved these grounds. Go to tourist spots, because cheesy is cheesy but cheesy is often built by those who seek to highlight what they most love. Closely note how the same sun rises and falls ever so slightly different… the way a city that knows any interim visitor likes me is still worth kissing gold.
If you’re around Seattle or have recommendations for what I should check out, definitely let me know! I’m here until the end of August — and very excited for all to come.