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Thursday, October 25, 2007

SEATTLE, DAY 3: LOST IN THE GRID

I pride myself on being able to come to an unfamiliar city and take the pulse of the place rather quickly. In short order, I can figure out the transportation system, the neighborhoods, and the overall vibe of the place. It's something I'm good at. Or, more accurately, it's something I was good at. But with Seattle, I may have met my match.

The city just isn't speaking to me. I know that sounds all new age flaky, but that's the only way I can explain it.

The weather cleared up today so I decided to do a bit of exploring. I hopped on a bus and checked out the university district. The University of Washington campus was beautiful, and the surrounding neighborhoods were nice. But I felt some strange distance from the place. Kind of like I wasn't there. It was sort of spooky.

After a while I caught another bus up to the Queen Anne district: a leafy neighborhood set on a hill north of downtown.

I figured there would be some good views of the city from there, but they were pretty tough to come by, what with all the leaves and all. This is about as good as I could get.

Oh well, there are some lovely views to be had in postcards and on episodes of "Fraiser," so I guess the world really doesn't need another Seattle photo from me.

As I walked down the hill from Queen Anne back into downtown, I was puzzling over just why Seattle isn't working for me. On paper, it's the perfect city. It has a dramatic setting, it's got lots of cool neighborhoods, a vibrant arts scene, decent public transit and more than a few good movie theaters. What more could you want?

Yet as I walk around this place, I can't quite get a sense of it. I know that's an expression so vague as to be almost meaningless. But I feel I know less about Seattle than when I arrived. And when I fly home tomorrow, it will be almost like I was never here. As a person who would love to earn his living by going to strange places and describing them to other people, this is a most disconcerting development.

Perhaps I haven't spent enough time here. Perhaps I needed more of a local's perspective. Perhaps Seattle and I are simply incompatible. I hope this last option isn't the case, because I think this probably is a great place, but I'm having trouble connecting with it.

Perhaps Seattle and I should go into couple's therapy.

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