I'm in Seattle right now, at a conference on global health. What can I tell you about Seattle? It's so clean here. So green here. So walkable. So Pacific Northwest. Temperatures in the 60s, which feels like a godsend, considering our unrelenting 90+ degree heat in New Orleans.
It took me 12 hours to travel here yesterday. Apparently, it takes less time to travel to Peru from New Orleans than it does to travel to Washington State. And last night, I had a really weird dream where I decided to turn around and fly home for the night and was then in a panic, trying to figure out a way to get back here again in time for the conference this morning.
Did I mention that I can see the Space Needle from my balcony? The balcony which, by the way, I can't smoke on unless I want to forfeit a $250 deposit. (Don't tell anyone, but I've snuck out there a couple of times and smoked anyway. And yes, I recognize the irony of the fact that I'm sneaking cigarettes on the balcony while attending a global health conference.)
Tomorrow, I hope to ditch the conference early and take in all of the tourist attractions. Namely, I want to go to Pike Place, although I'm sure it's similar in "authentic" Seattle to someone from Ohio thinking that the French Quarter represents all of New Orleans. But by God, I promised my daughter a souvenir.
I went to a bar tonight to watch the Saints game. I was the only one there cheering for the Saints--although I've yet to figure out whether everyone else was rooting for the 49ers or against the Saints, as it seems like the 49ers would be a natural enemy of the Seahawks. It was a strange experience, though. I'm so used to going to New Orleans bars--or any bar in the South, for that matter--where whoever you sit next to at the bar automatically becomes your new best friend, at least for the time being. We Southerners are good at that, at making conversation with complete and total strangers.
Again, Seattle is amazing in its cleanliness, its walkability. But it leaves me feeling a little bit lacking, a little bit longing for home. The people whose paths I cross here seem a bit taken aback when I make eye contact with them and say hello. At lunch today, we were asked to sort our trash to make sure everything that could be recycled was. Needless to say, you don't see that very often in New Orleans. It's a good thing--just a weird thing for me.
So what can I tell you? The Pacific NW is beautiful, idyllic, everything those of us living in more dysfunctional parts of the country long for. But as crazy as it seems, I miss the dysfunction. Because that's home. It's familiar. It's a place where you can have a conversation with anyone, anywhere. It's hot, steamy weather on into October, when it's 50 degrees outside here right now. (50 degrees in September? How odd.)
I came back to my hotel room after the Saints game was over, and Dancing with the Freaking Stars was on. How is it not time to go to bed after Monday Night Football? It's not natural to still have a couple of hours of television viewing left in you after football.
And I never, ever thought I'd watch the local news and find out that the top story was that a city councilman had been mauled by a grizzly bear. Although I suppose that might be preferable to finding out your councilperson has been indicted. Potato, potahto.