November 26, 2009

Big City

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. --Alan Alda

All I really had was a suitcase and my drums. So I took them up to Seattle and hoped it would work. --Dave Grohl

One of my friends told me that her long distance boyfriend of maybe two months had spent almost how much she pays in rent on a piece of jewelry for her. They're in love, he's adamant that he's the only one for her, and have began to discuss their lives as newlyweds. I'm sure a few of you clutched your heart a bit, or shook your head, like I did; and if you didn't, perhaps you have no reason to feel so jaded. And I'm sure there's at least one of you wondering why I'm talking about my friend's boyfriend when the title of this entry is "Big City."

Let me explain.

I mentioned briefly to some that I had been in a rather unsavory relationship. At eighteen I opted to date a twenty two year old, I fresh out of high school and he fresh off his first half of tour of duty on the front lines of Iraq. This scenario in no way automatically spells trouble, though I feel that to a certain degree I should have known better, or at least expected the possibility of what was to come.

At eighteen I was headstrong and fighting for my independence and my place in things. I've never considered myself beautiful in any capacity, and my lack of popularity never bothered me because I firmly believed then, and now, that a person must love you for who you are, not what they expect. Even still, the idea that a nice enough looking guy four years my senior, off doing worldly things and being an adult, wanted to date me was nice. I loved him and he said the same, he believed he was the only one for me, and so on, and it pleased me. So much so that I endured nearly two years of mental abuse and severe depression as he tried to cope with his anxieties about the war and himself by using me as his point of rage.

I'm not saying my friend will end up like me (mostly because I simply won't allow to watch my friends be brutalized in such a fashion after having gone through that myself), but it reminded me of why I moved to Seattle in the first place.

Yes, a large portion of my decision was based on the fact that I was accepted into the University of Washington after I had completed my AA degree at my local community college, but UW was the only four year institution that I had applied for. I reasoned to my parents later that it was because UW is the only institution that doesn't automatically accept transfers-- and that's true-- and if they didn't accept me, I could easily go to Central like my mother wanted me to.

In reality I craved Seattle. My dearest friends lived there, urging me to move out to be with them. I wanted so desperately to move on to some semblance of normalcy, normalcy for a young woman of twenty one, and be with my friends my age that my ex had done nearly everything in his power to keep me away from. I wanted to see them, I wanted some control over my life, and desired to try something new, even if that meant moving three hours away from everything I knew.

Most importantly, I wanted to leave me behind. My friends in Seattle, while close and dear to me, did not see the me that had been broken and devastated, all they know of are accounts that I have told them. They remembered me as the vibrant and stubborn teenager bounding down the field in my purple graduation robes, smile and laughing and happy. Part of me is sad that they weren't there for that part of my life, regardless of how sad it was, because it is very much a part of me and something they have difficulties understanding, but back then I relished in the thought of no one knowing I was a statistic, a dumb girl who let herself be abused, and could be seen again as the cheery and intelligent girl that I had left behind only a few years prior.

Seattle has done many things for me. I still have my insecurities and neuroses like every woman does, but I feel alive again, and proud. I met new people, reinstated my social life, succeeded in school, and while I purposely strayed away from romantic relations, forged friendships with people who love me, and mean it. It took an act of anonymity to bring me back to acknowledging myself, to love myself, and for that I will always be in love with this city and its inability to cope with snow.


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