I had hoped for a more languid transition from the build-up and excitement stage to the goodbye stage, but perhaps it’s best that I’ve been enveloped in an unending palimpsest of deadlines and events during the past 15 days.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, last weekend was really the beginning of my departure, as I set out with a dear friend for her whitewater rafting bachelorette party in Wenatchee with an overnight stay at Sleeping Lady, my first time going farther east than Stevens Pass. Going away, even for just a weekend, can help a person appreciate being home—especially when home is a well-loved place. 

Walking away from a “goodbye/goodluck” happy hour on the deck at Anthony’s on the central waterfront last night, I began to think about the places in Seattle that have become home to me over the past nine years—nooks and crannies that hold countless memories in quiet confidence.

…The swanky condo I rented  in Belltown, from which I heard the gentle clanging of the train at night though the tilted glass doors, which gently let in the salty ocean smell to wake me each morning.

…The rolling slopes at the Olympic Sculpture Park, a favorite place to stretch out in the sunlight, read magazines, and lay back against the cool grass while listening to music as the clouds rolled overhead.

…The Sitting Room in Lower Queen Anne, where Marcus the owner and Philipp the bartender greet me warmly with kisses and hugs—and tasty sage greyhounds—and barfly friends Bill, Karen, Steve and Ray know my name.

…The length of First Avenue, from Denny to University, where I live most of my weekday life and relish meeting friends and colleagues on my way home for a beer at Stella,  campari and soda at Le Pichet, late afternoon Italian lessons over vino rosso con la mia insegnanta, Jenny, at Macrina Bakery, bowls of spicy mussels at Black Bottle, and beers al fresco at Cyclops.

…The haul up Pike/Pine from the Market to 15th—funky shoe shopping at Edie’s, secret strategy meetings at Caffe Vita, the best crepes ever at 611 Supreme, my favorite coffee at Stumptown, salt caramel ice cream at Molly Moon’s, SIFF flicks at The Egyptian, late-night beer and nachos at The Elysian, anusara yoga with my guru, Denise, at Seattle Yoga Arts, the best local Italian food at Spinasse, and magical midnight rituals at Cal Anderson Park.

As I lovingly catalogued these places and more in my mind, I began to see how there’s a secret Seattle for all of us—places we hold dear where no visible afterimage of us can be seen, yet they somehow retain a bit of our spirit each time we return.

There’s a secret sadness in feeling how rich—and simple—these experiences are, and how easily it would be to let them dissipate, left to perdition if they only exist within my solitary memory.

I realized that this sadness is the main driver for my work in Civita: even though I may only offer one perspective, I hope to capture in time the abundant texture and web of experience that can only be found in that place in this particular time—and set it free within the imagination of others.