Seattle, you are pleasant in all the ways I expected you to be. You compost and protest, and always have vegetarian options on your menus, and let dogs come inside everywhere. (A dog just barked at another dog in the cafe where I'm writing this.) You're friendly, but you play a little hard to get. You make great coffee.

The thing I wasn't prepared for: constantly feeling like I need to apologize for moving here.

I knew Seattle was the Fastest Growing City in America™, but I underestimated all the hand-wringing that brings and what a strange place it makes the city for a newcomer. I feel like part of a problem I don't fully understand.

In Spokane, Seattle's shadow looms large. It lures some people away and makes them traitors to everyone still trying to make Spokane suck less. That anxiety has actually been good for Spokane: People are making more art and voting for more liberals. Being young or new there makes you part of the upswing.

Here, the city feels soaked in nostalgia for how charming it used to be and angst over its future, where everyone will be too rich and all your favorite bars will be replaced with condos. Everyone who's new to town ends up in the cross fire, resented for adding to the transformation.

But here's the thing: We're here now, and we're going to spend our time and money on something. I can't be the only one who wants that to be on supporting the authentic, interesting things—restaurants, bands, art shows, nonprofits—that will keep us all from turning into homogeneous privilege monsters. So instead of assuming I'm here to ruin your city, show me how to help make it even better. recommended