About three years ago, I woke up one morning and started randomly applying for jobs in Seattle. Maybe I should have prefaced this and said that prior to this week, I had never been to Seattle nor did I know anyone currently living in Seattle at that time. All that I knew were three things:
- The seafood is fresh in Seattle.
- It rains almost daily, but the summers are beautiful.
- There is a movie called Sleepless in Seattle.
I sometimes randomly go through these phases when I want to fly the coop known as Houston. Honestly, I can’t remember anything that triggered my certain urge to move to Seattle, however, I still get those job alerts to my phone today.
So after my Spring Break plans to Costa Rica fell through in lieu of a trip to Mexico in late April, I decided to use my expiring Southwest buddy pass to visit a close friend that had recently moved back home to Seattle. I arrived at the airport at 4:00am Saturday morning, naïve to the travelling nightmare that would soon begin. Due to inclement weather in the South and it being the start of Spring Break, every flight had been oversold and buddy pass holders were being placed at the very bottom of the standby list. After being rejected for flight after flight, along with several other pass holders, I had started to think that maybe I wouldn’t be making it to Seattle after all, but let me tell you about the God that I serve.
After being in the airport for over 8 hours without a viable flight option in sight, I reached a point where I was ready to just say phuck it. I watched another buddy pass holder have a full meltdown after not being able to reach her destination city and had even formed a crew with other travelers that had been fighting the good fight with me all morning. From gate to gate we went to try and catch the next flight, and at each gate we were told there were not any more seats available. I had even solicited the help of my flight attendant aunt, but hopes of getting out of Hobby began to look bleaker and bleaker with each passing hour.
My last hope was a flight to New Orleans that would put me on a flight to Phoenix and from Phoenix a flight to Seattle that would arrive late that night. When I got to the gate for the departing flight to New Orleans, I was informed that I was number 17 on the standby list and that the flight had been oversold by 2. I was already almost 12 hours into my airport fiasco, and even though I’ve never been a quitter, I went to find one of my new friends to see whether she had any luck getting to DC and to possibly tell her bye (I hadn’t made up my mind yet). I found her sitting at a gate, fingers crossed, #2 on the standby list, praying she would make the next flight. But once the flight was boarded, unfortunately, it was filled to capacity.
After telling her to meet me at Gate 50, for a quick drink, I begin to gather my stuff and walk down the walkway. And while I was walking, I heard someone yell my name. It was Ashley, the gate attendant for the New Orleans flight. By the grace of God, most of the passengers on that standby list had either not been there when their names were called or else were travelling in a large group. I had a seat! The door had already been closed, so the supervisor had to request special permission to reopen it, but me, Tonia, #17 on the standby list, received the very last seat on the plane to New Orleans.
Now, we all know that the devil works just as hard as God, and even though I made it to New Orleans, my flight to Phoenix was delayed due to weather and I missed my flight to Seattle by 5 minutes. Saturday night my bed was a hard chair in the Phoenix airport, because I refused to pay for a hotel for 4 hours.
But finally, I made it to this city that had my heart before it had my heart. It is not a secret that Houston bores me to my core most days, but there had only been one other city that I knew could be home prior to this trip, Chicago. I’m a sucker for “clean” walking downtowns and swimmable water, and whether you’re mortified by Chicago’s crime rate or not, it is a city that has both. And let me not even go into detail about the nights that turned into mornings, the clubs that we turnt up and turned out, the food that made gluttony our sin, and my propensity for doing gangsta ish in a city known for gangstas. I have several cities that I revisit from New Orleans to Las Vegas to New York to LA, but there are few cities that feel like “home.”
It took 28 hours to make it to Seattle, but it only took an 18 minute drive to brunch for Seattle to steal my heart. From the picturesque views to the architecturally unique custom designed homes, I knew that Seattle was about to become a place that I will revisit frequently in years to come.
Even in the midst of harsh winds strong enough to uproot trees and rain pellets that turned into hail, I was still able to see most of the popular tourist sites. After brunch, my tour guide and close friend, Chalon, a Seattle native, took me on a trek downtown to explore Pikes Place Market, the original Starbucks, and the flagship Nordstroms. I knew that Starbucks was founded in Seattle, but I had no idea that the first Nordstrom’s store was there as well. After exploring downtown, we took a drive by the Space Needle. Due to my fear of heights and the increasing ferocity of the wind, she quickly nixed any ideas of trying to travel to the top. As we drove through the city, after battling the wind and rain, we quickly begin to realize that we had been out being tourists in the midst of a storm. There were several streets blocked off due to uprooted trees and large debris, yet, that did not stop us from touring Jimi Hendrix’s grave and attempting to visit the graves of Bruce and Brandon Lee, however, that cemetary was closed. And after finding out I have a slight obsession with the Forever 27 Club, she even threw in a drive by of Kurt Cobain’s house for good measure.
After wanting to come to Seattle for years, this trip did not disappoint, nor did the fish and chips and clam chowder at Ivar’s (get the Cajun seasoning). While this time I was a tourist, I am looking forward to coming back this summer and actually enjoying the night life. Usually I am a wuss puss when it comes to being out in the rain, but I must admit, that the rain didn’t stop our parade. As we drove around this city filled with blossoming cherry blossoms, rippling lakes, lush evergreen trees, and what seemed like a neighborhood park on every corner, I begin to look at Seattle as more than just a place to visit for vacation, but as a place perfect to raise a family. I don’t know what my future holds, but the older that I get and more ready to settle down, I realize my longing to raise my children in a city that has all of the big city perks with a small town feel. Needless to say, I’m not packing up and moving to Seattle yet, but it just became #1 on my “Maybe, one day” list.
When I told Chalon that I would be coming to visit her in Seattle, one of my special requests was that she make sure I ate some good, fresh crab. So following my arrival, she took me to one of her favorite brunch spots on the water, Salty’s. For about $50 per person, Salty’s provides a gourmet buffet filled with various seafood entrees, an omelet bar, a pasta bar, and a table filled with different types of fresh crab, from dunguness to Alaskan snow crab. Thank God for an appetite that had been built up after a disastrious airport stint, because there were so many delectable different dishes to try. The buffet was worth every penny, and it didn’t hurt that the service was impeccable as well.
View from Salty’s.
The Original Starbucks.
Jimi Hendrix’s Grave.
With Love and Sparkles,