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Version: travel_essay 07.31.22
july 31, 2022 // truly madly deeply
i can finally check off the pacific northwest off my bucket list and, frankly, i see why the symbiotic transfer of transplants between seattle and san francisco happens as often as it does—the exception of similarities being that summer in the pacific northwest might be gorgeous, green, and—most importantly—warm. however, my time in july also converged with a nationwide heatwave that san francisco was suspiciously immune from, as if human-caused climate change knew exactly when i would be leaving my foggy city refuge with its deeply enjoyed indian summers. (i also recently found out there's an alternative name for this phenomenon: saint martin's summers, which does sound chiefly european.)
this was a trip for that i wasn't exactly prepared; i had made arrangements just a couple of months prior after meeting someone who i've since fallen for. he, having grown up in seattle, was returning for a spell and an opportunity arose to extend time spent together. of course, it ended up working out serendipitiously, just like the rest of our burgeoning relationship—where everything was happening at exactly the right time, including when i told him for the first time that i loved him under the shadow of the space needle, wiping tears away from an anxiety-fueled misunderstanding that led to him openly returning my love exponentially.
seeing the city through his experiences was a new venture for me, a solo (and deeply independent) traveler; learning more about him through the place he lived was just as interesting to me as getting to know him back at home. i must admit, though, i loved finding new aspects of the city that he hadn't seen, despite coming of age in the emerald city (which, by the way, i learned is not a reference to cannabis). seattle is just so green—the city itself is almost as if the forest is retaking its claimed land as skyscrapers and midrises tower next to the firs, hemlocks, and cedars that flutter against the glass and concrete that make up their bones.
i only wish it hadn't been so hot so we could have hiked more, but he put such a great effort in to make sure i saw everything that encapsulated seattle: pike place market, the space needle, great coffee, even better food. one of the things i love about him is his ability to take great care, and he did just that. once we had exhausted seattle's tourist spots, we took an adventure to portland for the weekend.
having our first trip together experience (with a road trip within that, as stressful as they can be) was also telling of how we are traveling in general; it made me excited to travel more with him, as we plan to do. we just work well together; i continue to be amazed at how good of a team we are. was love always meant to be this easy? he chose the gorgeous hotel we stayed in with huge windows that flooded the room with light. he surprised me with powell's books, walking around with me dutifully as i gushed over the trove of used books of so much variety. i ended up snagging a couple. i treated him to fondue for the first time, just for the heck of it. we saw nope and dissected it afterward. he walked me through the japanese garden, the type of forest walk that i enjoy so much, on a day that was unforgiving to the mild temperatures i've gotten used to.
on our final day in oregon as we were driving back to seattle, he surprised me with a waterfall, something i'd never seen in person. multnomah falls had introduced timed tickets, where folks have to reserve in advance before making the trek; unfortunately, we had none and there were none available. luckily, though, i did some research and found that we could get into the area with a reservation at the lodge restaurant at the bottom of the 620-foot waterfall—and there was a reservation open in ten minutes. i quickly scooped up the reservation and we made our way past the checkpoints, having a hearty lunch with a view before traversing up to the bridge of the falls.
it was just wonderful to be a couple together in a new place. the end of our two weeks in the pnw together was hard for me especially, as i couldn't help but cry and miss him before i was even on the flight. we had just spent the day playing hooky from work, traversing the pacific science museum and dancing with butterflies.
"baby, i'm not dying," he said, kissing the spots of my cheek that were still wet from tears. and i know that, and time apart is good, but i'd just become so comfortable with the idea of him being around all the time. the sunlight was long gone by the time my flight was pulling out at 9:55, but i couldn't help noticing the sunset remained on the edge of the horizon this far north, as if to give me extra time in that day in order to savor the parts of us that i was leaving behind and can only relive in my memories. we have more memories to make, and i just can't wait.
i'm home, and it's quiet now at the apartment that i'm making ours. i didn't realize how much i enjoyed the music of someone you love in the space you share together. lately, it's been my favorite tune.