I always dreamed I would end up in Seattle somehow.
In the early 90s, I fell in love with the idea of going to the Emerald City back when Gary Payton threw lobs to Shawn Kemp for some of the most incredible alley-oops I had ever seen in my life. My infatuation with the green and gold only grew as I started to see pictures of the Space Needle and the Puget Sound. Back when Ken Griffey displayed the most beautiful swing possibly of all time, Nirvana and Pearl Jam already cranked through my headphones, and I had developed a good taste for seafood.
It took me 20 years, but I finally arrived on Friday, and it felt so good.
I walked down through downtown Seattle, sniffing in the plethora of Starbucks and Pan-Asian foods deep into my lungs. I brushed past the crowds near Safeco Field and Pike Place Market. I wiped my mouth after having a clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, leaving just enough room for grilled seafood for the main course. I laughed at vendors selling Yankees Suck! tees while cheering on the Mariners versus the Red Sox in Viva Las [Jason] Vargas faux-gilded sunglasses. I had one (and only one) local beer, but felt wobbly walking and driving up and down the hills of Queen Anne and Capitol Hill.
Yet, something was missing.
I started to see families of all races, ages, and orientations making their way around the Space Needle. I walked up the cyclical ramp, up the ramp, and past the crowds snacking on hot dogs and fries. I walked right to the outer observation and felt like I stood on top of the world. The people spoke with their inside voices, but the whole scene felt so loud to me, like a roar, a boom, a clarion call. Overlooking every street I walked, every building I passed, and every body of water that contributed to the brisk conditions there, I almost felt like, for a split second, the world was mine.
I didn’t have my family with me. The entire observation deck had babies sitting on railings (with a little help of course), kids running around trying to keep a set of binoculars in front of them, adults sighing and smiling, and couples embracing. Now, I join the millions of people who couldn’t imagine making it to the top without the people they love.
I’ll definitely be back in Seattle again. The next time, however, I’ll have at least two other people in tow, one of whom will ask me, “Dad, what is that over there?” I’ll tell him it’s a mountain. He’ll say, “Can we get up on one of those?”
Yes, of course. Music to my ears.