When I’m old, I’m going to sit in an orange floral armchair in my room at the nursing home, staring out my window at my hummingbird feeding all day long. It’s practically what I do now anyway, minus the orange floral armchair. I’ve become mildly obsessed.
Something I like about Washington is having hummingbirds come to my feeder year round. I took these today while it was snowing.
In the meantime, my hummingbird obsession has rubbed off onto Bryant in a weird way: he’s been sitting here googling the world’s smallest creatures for the past 30 minutes and reporting all his findings to me. It started with the world’s smallest hummingbird, and has since escalated to the smallest bat, the smallest mammal (which happens to be the same bat), the smallest vertebrate (which is a frog), the smallest primate (a lemur), the smallest crocodile (4 feet), the smallest snake (3.8 inches), etc etc. Now he’s reading to me all about honey bees. Maybe we should’ve been zoologists.
I’ve had this weird feeling lately. It started as nothing—so faint it was hardly noticeable. But it grew. And then it was strong enough that I could name it. So I did. And goodness knows once you name something it sticks around.
I miss Utah.
It’s almost comedic, isn’t it? How life changes you so slowly and subtly. Like wind against rock. Until it’s suddenly shocking when you finally notice how different you’ve become.
It’s those dang mountains. I crave them. I miss living right at their base before they jut off into the sky. I miss having them tower over my head. I miss the comfort of those massive, steady landmarks, always in view no matter where you turn.
I have an old friend who’s a dyed in the wool Utah soul. She lamented the claustrophobia-inducing trees of Connecticut and the gaping emptiness of the mid-west’s plains. “There are no mountains to keep the sky up off my head!” she’d say. I didn’t get it. Now I do. Those mountains.
Plus there’s this:
Southern Utah. Glowing, gritty, sandy red rocks.
It’s more than just the landscape I miss. You know, there was something cool about finally making my peace with the crazy culture. It was an awesome accomplishment. It wasn’t just that I appreciated the endless comedic fodder (and don’t get me wrong, it truly is endless). But I grew to really love the good parts. I learned to notice them, and see them more often. And I learned to make the best of the rest.
I haven’t forgotten that lesson. Washington is amazing. Breathtaking. I love this place. Plus I’m pretty sure I’m going to start loving it even more, now that I don’t have to work nights and weekends.
But isn’t it weird that moving to this gorgeously green state was what showed me I’ve become a desert girl? Me? The one who always maintained that no place is as beautiful as my green, rolling Connecticut hills. The one who would drive around the back roads of Provo and Salt Lake looking for tree tunnels that I could drive under and squeal, “It looks like home!”
And here I am. Nostalgically browsing through old photos. Reading Utah blogs and salivating. Fantasizing about Goblin Valley, Spiral Jetty, Antelope Island.
Sunbeams, verga, and big sky. Canyons, aspen groves, and a compass built right into the landscape. Tumbleweed, road trips, and all four seasons. Mexican food, carefree college nights, and the disgusting awesomeness of the Great Salt Lake.
Yes. Those are bugs. Love that salty lake.
I guess if I give it a couple years, I’ll probably be writing a post like this about the Pacific Northwest, too. But right now, even though I am terribly happy where I am, it’s a pretty nice feeling to have something to be nostalgic about. I’m a little homesick for my second home.
We put everything we own into boxes and moved to Washington.
We celebrated Christmas in an apartment furnished with nothing but a giant, undecorated Christmas tree and a leaky blow-up mattress. It turned out perfect.
I went back to school.
Bryant started a new job (which he loves).
I started a new job (which I love).
We hosted dear friends and family from out of town seven times, for a total of 35 days!
Bryant was hospitalized for a week, and survived.
We watched New Year’s fireworks at the Space Needle, and we watched 4th of July fireworks over Lake Washington.
We took trips to North Carolina (and Virginia while we were at it), Utah twice, Colorado twice, and Illinois.
My 2010 bald eagle sighting count grew to six.
We experienced the full range of Seattle’s three seasons, which are as follows:  three and a half months of sun with 70-degree weather*,  eight and a half months of rain, and  three days of light snow, when absolutely everything will shut down and your husband will spend seven hours on a bus on a bridge over Lake Washington.
We got an adorable new niece.
Bryant managed to squeeze out a year of living in a new state without getting a new driver’s license.
We found our favorite Indian-food place, Mexican-food place, gelato place, creme-puff place (come on, everyone needs a favorite creme puff place), and we’re still working on the rest.
We bought some real, grown-up furniture, which will be delivered next weekend, and I can’t wait.
We had a three-year anniversary, I turned 26, and Bryant’s 32nd is just around the corner.
It’s so odd how all this stuff packs itself into the year without you noticing it. Sometimes, when I’m not thinking, I feel like I’ve wasted so much time and think I must be useless because there are still so many things left to do on my list. But then I take a minute to make a list like this and I realize, life fills itself into the spaces whether you’re aware of it or not. There’s always more to do, but look at how much you’ve done!
2010, thanks for everything. You’ve been very good year.
Everyone who told me that I wouldn’t need air conditioning in Washington, except for maybe three days a year, was flat out lying.
Just putting that out there.
Also, even if I did only need it for three days a year, those would be the three happiest days of my life, sitting in the comfort of my cold, air-conditioned home while the rest of the world boiled away outside.
It’s 5 o’clock at night, 93 degrees outside, and probably 193 degrees here in my top-floor apartment.
.. .. ..
Alright. I’m done whining. For now. Thanks for listening. Back to FNL.
One of the nice things about this new apartment is all of the electrical outlets. There’s like one on every wall. Seriously. It’s a huge upgrade from our last apartment, which had about three outlets in the whole place—none of which were grounded.
So I’ve taken this opportunity to get something I’ve never had the luxury of using before: plug-in air fresheners. (Totally classy, I know. What can I say, we’re moving up in the world.)
This month’s flavor?
Vanilla. …Sweet, sugary, delicious vanilla.
And it’s killing me. Every time I walk into the living room, I’m hit with this amazing smell of sugar cookies and frosting. Bryant’s dying too. Every now and then you can hear one of us shout, “I want frosting!” I swear, this air freshener is going to make us each gain 20 pounds. We might have to get rid of it if we don’t get used to the smell soon.
I am tired of smelling the neighbor’s food. Granted, sometimes it smells really delicious, but I’d prefer not to smell anything at all. Ever. Mostly because sometimes it smells really, really, inexplicably awful.
Right now they’re cooking something with a lot of vegetables. There’s definitely some broccoli in there. And probably some beans? It smells very green. Oh, and wait, they just added something else. Teriyaki sauce? Maybe they’re making stir fry. Oops, smells like they just started to burn it. Should’ve taken it off the stove a minute sooner. (I’m not kidding. All this is really happening in real time as I type this post. It would be kind of funny if it weren’t so strong smelling and such a nightly occurrence. I do wish that I knew where it was coming from so I could at least have the satisfaction of confirming my guesses about their menu.)
It’s the strangest thing because we don’t have any shared vents. These apartments don’t have central air or heating. There aren’t any ducts leading from their apartment to ours, that I’m aware of. But the smell wafts into our living room just as if they were cooking in our kitchen.
So this might be considered old news, since the movie’s been out for more than a month now, but this past weekend, Bryant and I went into Seattle and saw Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. It was wonderful. I’m totally enamored with it. You all probably already knew how awesome it was because you’re not weird like us and wait a month to go see the movies that look good. But if you haven’t seen it yet, go now!
We saw it in 3D, which was fun, as you can clearly tell by the expression on Bryant’s face.
In other news, we finally got Washington plates and new drivers licenses, so it’s like we’ve officially moved in. (Though, technically Bryant is still waiting on his.) The thing is, having Utah plates kind of felt like a protection—a valid disclaimer. When I was driving someplace new, it was almost excusable to be driving like a lost soul, pausing a little too long before turns, driving just a touch too slow to figure out where the heck I am. Or anytime I did something stupid on the road (unrelated to being new, just related to being a bad driver), I would say, “Sorry! Utah driver!” and I felt somehow justified and protected from ridicule. But now it’s official. We live here. No excuse for driving slow or crazy. I’m supposed to know where everything is. Supposed to know what I’m doing. Feels kind of like taking off the training wheels.
The most hilarious thing about living in Washington is the weather segment of the news. They always try to say something suspenseful to keep you watching through the commercial break, because seriously, you do NOT want to miss the report about what big weather event is coming our way. But in reality, all they ever say is that it’s probably going to rain today. And it’s probably going to rain tomorrow. And the next day. Then they act like it’s a huge surprise. Also, they don’t say “sunshine.” They say “sun break.”
Also alarming was pulling up to the drive-in at Dairy Queen the first week we lived here. Instead of listing Blizzard prices by size (S, M, or L), they list them by calorie content (bad-for-you, really-bad-for-you, or you’re-going-to-die-young). Mm, I think that’s something I didn’t want to know.
Parking lots are also funny places. It’s as if people don’t drive around looking for a free spot; they drive around looking for already-occupied spaces where a shopper is unloading her cart. Then they sit and wait for her to leave. We moved here during the last-minute Christmas rush, so I thought maybe this phenomenon was due to the high volume of shoppers. But it’s been a good three months now, and I still notice people doing this. They’re willing to sit and wait three minutes for you to leave, rather than drive a few more rows down to park in the spot that’s already empty. Patient folks, these Washingtonians.
Another thing. Sometimes the carpool lane is on the right side of the highway instead of the left. Strange. Also, stores have a bucket of complimentary umbrellas for you to borrow at their doors because, yes, it is always raining. A layer of green grows on everything—tree trunks, lampposts, house siding, stop signs. And my college campus looks just like the Dharma Initiative on Hydra island. Seriously.