Hi. Welcome to Seattle, etc.
Now that you've been here for some period of time that is more than a week and less than a year, there's something you should know: The emotional intelligence of the city you have chosen for your new home is fucked.
The "we" that is currently processing your application will cancel plans without notice and never speak to you again if you complain. It will talk shit about you behind your back while being nothing but warm to your face. It will ignore your texts for months and then send you one that's like "Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, we need to hang out it's been too long." It will promise to come to your show and forget all about it before its coffee is cool enough to sip. It will borrow the shirt you like. It will not return it. It will fuck your boy/girlfriend immediately after and possibly long before your relationship ends. And it will do all of these things while swearing on all it holds sacred that friendship is the most important thing in the world.
If you've spent more than a few months here, none of the above will be news to you. You may be wondering why these conditions prevail. After 22 years of living here, I'd love to tell you the answer. But I can't. I can, however, tell you that everyone I know laments the way things are, even as we continue contributing to the problem. I can also tell you that the true friendships I've made here are deep and durable, and the good times I've had among the counterfeit ones are potent and memorable, too.
The low bar for acceptable, civil human interaction probably has something to do with the fact that, for at least the past few decades, Seattle's cultural life has been dominated by people in their 20s, who are generally shallow, ignorant, self-absorbed, and incapable of measuring the magnitude of their own importance. Just a theory.
But Seattle's selective emotional availability is pervasive and cross-generational. It's almost elemental. People call it the Freeze, or the Nice, but these are just boring euphemisms for people who hate language. (PS: Seattle is also the most aggressively anti-intellectual good city in America.) We turn to clichés because they're easier than thinking hard about deeper issues—in this case, that emotional engagement with other people is taxing, and we've already paid enough goddamn tax. But beneath those clichés is a matrix of desire and discomfort.
It has something to do with a dread of accountability, a yearning to matter, a fear that you never will, and the understanding that sometimes you simply can't bring yourself to go outside or speak to or be seen by anyone.
But it also has something to do with love. That love may be concealed by the resting bitch face, but it's all the more profound because it has to be discovered, coaxed, earned. And, you know, returned.
In the end, Seattle is exactly the same as every other place in the world: yours to navigate, yours to discover, yours to ruin or improve by the exact measure of the self you add to it. The stories in this exciting special issue of The Stranger are designed to help you find your way through the city, but also to help us reflect and remember why we choose to live here—despite the fact that the weather is garbage, our rents have skyrocketed, our jobs have disappeared, our favorite bars have been shuttered, and our friends won't return our texts.
Answer: Because it's the best!
Welcome to Seattle.
NEW TO TOWN CONTENTS
Imminent megaquakes, crumbling freeways, and more. Sydney Brownstone gives you something to cry about.
Dauntless city hall reporter Heidi Groover gives you a handy guide to giving a damn about your city government.
Just because you’re paying an arm and a leg doesn’t mean you can’t use your head!
A user’s guide to getting high without getting arrested.
What do a techie, a musician, a molecular biologist, and a refugee have in common? They’re all NEW TO TOWN!
Our resident food critic and mom-of-a-toddler Angela Garbes offers a tour of Seattle’s baby-friendly spaces.
You may have heard that Seattle is changing. Well, nothing tells you more about those changes than the Cloud Room, Via6, Folio, and Seattle Meowtropolitan Cat Cafe.
Four writers encourage all newcomers to join the fight against Seattle’s embarrassing habits—bad driving, poor umbrella usage, escalator ethics, and more.
Charles Mudede delivers a thumbnail guide to being black and brown in one of America’s whitest cities.
Seattle got famous for rock ’n’ roll, but over the past 20 years, hiphop has quietly taken over as the city’s most significant musical force.
Overwhelmed by entertainment options? Dave Segal is here to give you a short list of who you should be listening to.
Jen Graves lets you know what to look for (and what to look out for).
These 12 books will bring you up to speed on the city’s many histories.
One thing Seattle still has plenty of is artists who pay the rent by serving coffee. Rich Smith (a poet who pays the rent by writing articles like this) lets you know which ones work where.