December 9th marks the 1 year anniversary of our arrival in Kirkland, WA. It’s amazing how fast this place became home!!
I love all the new people I’ve met here. It’s really inspiring to be around this many talented, interesting people. When I was in Illinois working at a small company I rarely met new people and there were few to share ideas with or learn from. Here, however, there’s no shortage of talented people to be inspired by. Even better, most of them seem to love the same stuff I do!! I found it hard to make friends until I lived here – it seemed like few people had anything in common with me.
It’s also really cool to be in an area that is so culturally in sync with me. Everywhere I go, people are talking about video games, movies, or something they saw on the Internet. It’s surreal – the Internet is prominent in people’s lives where I’m from. It still surprises me, to this day, when people actually know what I’m talking about when I mention something like EverQuest or an Internet meme.
Washington’s also a really beautiful place to live. It’s denser living, with a hearty helping of trees and lakes. When I returned home to Illinois I was struck by how barren and sprawling the landscapes are. I hate to call Illinois ugly, because I’ve seen some beautiful parts of it (especially Oregon, Illinois) but the part I’m from is rather unpleasant to look upon.
The first thing you see as you are leaving O’Hare is a spaghetti bowl of highway and billboards. The suburbs themselves are huge stretches of houses punctuated by massive plazas and even more massive parking lots. Traveling through them is like being trapped in a never ending merry-go-round of houses, Jewel-Oscos, Walgreens, and roads. The only trees in sight are the solitary, manicured trees that serve as a centerpiece to a sprawling lawn, or trees in a forest preserve, tucked away from highly trafficked areas. I have to laugh at the notion of a forest preserve now that I’ve lived in an area that has preserved it forests by carving into them respectfully instead of flattening them.
I love how common-sense the local community is here. Nearly every road I’ve been on has a bike path painted onto it. Voting in my county is done by mail. The ballot even comes with information about each candidate. In King County, calorie counts for food sold by chain restaurants are posted visibly, and nearly every restaurant offers vegetarian, low-fat, or otherwise healthy options. Some restaurants even seem to specialize in healthier fare.
I can go on: the minimum wage is higher here than anywhere else in the country. Recycling is heavily encouraged, with public receptacles for plastics and newspapers everywhere. Buses are a common sight on the roads and their routes aren’t just limited to the inner city. A huge, 25+ mile bikes-and-joggers-only trail wraps around Lake Washington and offers a safe place to bike or run. In Illinois, it’s every man for himself. A carpool lane exists on every major highway I’ve been on, offering a faster route for vehicles carrying more than one person.
I don’t think Jim and I knew the extent of the gift we were being offered when Griptonite offered us a job in Washington a year ago. We love it here.