I’ve traveled a lot in the past few years, to see friends, to check out somewhere completely new, to go to weddings, etc. And whenever I go to a new location I can’t help but think, “what is it that makes a person decide to live here.” Maybe it’s where they were born or where their family moved, and the only place that they know of as home. Perhaps they went there for college or work and just kinda stuck around after. Or maybe they visited the place and had this overwhelming feeling of belonging, like the place was some sort of projection of their soul, like it was where they were meant to be in the world.
I’ve only ever felt that way about a few places. One is actually where I grew up, the countryside and rolling hills of Virginia. Another was London where I studied abroad but felt like I belonged there a week into the semester. The third is Seattle. When my friend Cecily and I visited last weekend for my second trip out to see one of our other friends, I had a distinct moment where time seemed to have stopped and it was as though I’d been there forever, that I was just living my life as normal, and it would continue there. Cecily felt the same. And yet before we knew it we were solemnly sitting in the Lyft on the way to the airport, watching the city diminish in the distance and the illusion fading before our very eyes.
So now what? What do you do when you’re homesick for a place you’ve only ever been to twice? How do you fill that hole in your heart when you left a piece somewhere else? Honestly, right now I don’t know. So maybe I start with reliving my time there, rifling though my pictures, remembering the taste of the excessive pizza we ate or the frozen cocktails we drank, closing my eyes and pretending I’m back at Dance Church, dancing my heart out to Justin Bieber. I guess that’s a good start, so here we go.
Staying with our friends Reilly and Nikson and their adorable pitbull Ollie was like staying at the coziest and friendliest mid-century modern home with a constant supply of pamplemousse La Croix, dog snuggles, friend time, and Great British Bake-Off binge watching. Soooo, that alone would’ve made the trip excellent. But add on our lust for a life that includes wonderful food and drinks at all times and you’ve got the makings of a really great vacation.
One prevalent theme of the trip was “rosé all day” which started at our first destination The Steelhead Diner. Situated in the midst of Pink Place Market, this place has great views of shoppers below from their patio and an excellent selection of fresh seafood. After getting started with a bottle of rosé and crown and cranberry shots, we moved on to, you know, actual food. We started with their crispy tater tot rendition, before moving onto a family-style assortment of gulf shrimp, poutine, and the most tender salmon served over polenta with cherries, almonds, and rosemary brown butter. Ending it with more rosé, chocolate pecan pie, and cheesecake left us drunk, full, and happy and glad for the long walk back.
As if our luxurious lunch weren’t enough, we somehow decided that it was also a perfect night for a giant rectangle thick-crust pizza from Brandon Pettit’s Dino’s Tomato Pie. I’m not joking when I say that this ranks top 3 for best pizzas I’ve ever had in my life. The restaurant, bathed in red light and boasting “the longest bar in Seattle” specializes in greasy but oh-so-good Jersey style pizza with a damn good bar menu as well (including a bomb iteration of frosé with amaretto and blueberry). To say we loved the pizza would be an understatement. In fact, even with our long list of places we wanted to try, we made sure to make another stop at Dino’s before heading off to the airport at the end of the trip.
We may or may not have gotten a little, um, crazy after our pizza so needless to say things were slow-moving the next day. Yet the prospects of a return visit to General Porpoise Doughnuts got us out and about soon enough. It was there, with a chocolate marshmallow doughnut and a latte, that we somehow started singing Salt-N-Pepa’s "None of your Business" in a Batman voice which somehow became a “thing” for the rest of the trip? Don’t ask.
Seeking a savory bite and more frosé after doughnuts, we wound up at Nacho Borracho for chips and guac, some casual mid-day frozen cocktails, and a quick photoshoot with their rainbow fiesta of decorations. After drinks we headed over to Scratch Deli for, you guessed it, more rosé and sandwiches. I got the butter chicken sandwich with curry kraut and highly recommend.
To round out the afternoon, we headed over to Rachel’s Ginger Beer for more cocktails. This is a true gem of a place, specializing solely in fun and inventive flavors of super spicy and fizzy ginger beer that you can get straight up or mixed with a liquor of your choice. You can even get a growler to go. But since it was vacation and #yolo, I opted for the boozy ginger beer float: white peach ginger beer + rum + soft serve vanilla. After this liquor and food-filled day, we took it easy that chilly night, hitting up Soi for some warming thai soup then heading over to Bar Ferdinand for a few glasses of wine in their outdoor courtyard.
The next day started with what I would call the best workout I’ve ever had. World, let me introduce you to Dance Church. With no religious affiliation but an all-inclusive and judgment-free environment, this class congregates on Sunday in a dance studio to dance to the heart’s desire to modern pop music for 90 minutes. While there is an aerobic element and you follow an instructor in squats, punches, and twerking, freestyle dance is the main component. Would go again, for sure.
Having met up with our friend Cody, the five of us headed over to Westward for brunch on the patio. We started with sparking rosé, oysters, and a French toast muffin and continued onto mushrooms over polenta and the fanciest avocado toast I’ve maybe ever seen. We stayed in an Airbnb that night in Green Lake, trading in our fancy night out for a round of kings with Raniers and mini-mart chips and salsa while watching the sunset on the rooftop deck. Then Game of Thrones because, priorities.
The next day, after a disappointing moment of watching the eclipse (we didn’t have glasses so we just stood outside as it got slightly dim with a live stream of the totality playing in the background), we hit up Roxy’s diner for brunch and $6 mimosas and the Theo chocolate factory store. We took it easy in the afternoon, chillin in the park, eating vegan ice cream, watching more GBBO, normal things, and that night decided to check out Bar Vacilando just down the street.
Cecily, Reilly, and I unanimously agreed it was our favorite meal, not just because the food and atmosphere were impeccable, but we all felt so at peace, delving into deep conversations, talking about the future and our lives in general, and missing our 4th wheel Melinda. In our own little corner of the restaurant, which we usually need to protect others from our raucous conversations, I felt more relaxed and at ease with my life than I have in a long time. Maybe the mezcal, elderflower, and ginger beer cocktails helped, or maybe the pear and gorgonzola pizza, salt cod croquettes, Korean fried chicken, and green bean fries added to the experience, but I know without a doubt that the company made it perfection.
Our final day we all worked as we awaited our late flight. It was tinged with a somber feeling, as was our final dinner at Dino’s. Nobody wanted to leave, to part ways, to say goodbye to the place that so quickly became our home away from home. Where this leaves me now, I don’t know. But what I do know more that anything though is that the heart is generally accurate, that it speaks to you when it finds something with which it resonates. I remember last year on our trip together to Denver I was so focused on trying to figure out who I was when I should’ve all along just been trusting that feeling inside when I know I am at peace. I really think that I am my own truth when I have that feeling and rather than trying to put my identity into words, should go on intuition and live by my heart instead. That feels right for now. Until next time Seattle.