Friday, April 30, 2010

I May Be An Elitist

I’ve always seen myself as an adventurer, as someone who thrives on new and exciting experiences. Traveling to foreign countries and living in unfamiliar places engenders a certain enthusiasm within me that only bolsters my curiosity about the world. This interest undeniably comes from my family’s history and my upbringing. However, it seems that the farther I travel, the more sure I become that I truly belong in the Pacific NW. I am sure that this too has to do with the fact that I was raised to love and appreciate all the wonders that the NW has to offer.

Living here in Tanzania certainly has been anything but dull, but I don’t feel at home here. Mostly, I miss the mountains—being able to wake up before sunrise to quickly hike on the slopes of the I-90 corridor and make it back in time for class. I miss the crisp, cool morning air and running up Queen Anne on the Crown to behold Mt. Rainier towering in the distance behind the cityscape. I miss going to Discovery Park and to watch the sunset over the Sound behind the Olympics. I miss spending whole weekends backpacking, completely isolated from other people and being surrounded only by nature. I even miss the mundane, like driving down I-5 and viewing the Olympics off to the west and the Cascades to the East. Seattle really is an incomparable city, and I feel lucky enough to be able to call this Emerald City my home.

So what spurred all this nostalgia? It’s partly due to the fact that my dad, brothers and boyfriend are always recalling to me their recent outings in the mountains. But this time, my inspiration comes from the Dirtbag Diaries. Being trapped in Dar es Salaam with absolutely no mountains in sight and practically no outdoor activities, this podcast has been a comfort for me—listening to stories of other people who have a passion for the great outdoors. The most recent podcast was about an Orgoneon who moved to D.C. for an amazing job opportunity at National Geographic. But after a few months of living away from the PacNW, she got homesick for the mountains and moved back to Bend. Upon leaving, her boss professed, “People who found their footing in the Pacific NW are elitists, they are forever ruined for all other places; no where else can satisfy them; they have a surreal vision of what home is and what home means.” This rings true for me: no other place, no matter how exotic, will be able to measure up to the NW on my ruler. My infatuation for visiting new countries and my love for the NW will forever hold a dissonance. However, my fervidness to be within easy access of the mountains corroborates the fact that the Pacific NW is indeed my home.

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