On the eve of my next adventure, I thought it was time I finally put into writing what my recent trip to Seattle meant to me. Thirty is a BIG birthday. It’s a milestone. So, for my thirtieth birthday I decided to take a trip somewhere to celebrate. The fact that at thirty I’m fiscally able to a book plane ticket to anywhere is reason enough to celebrate. I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I’ve worked hard for my travels. Hard work should never go uncelebrated. In my opinion, birthdays should never go uncelebrated either.
When deciding where to visit, I looked at a few different places: San Diego, Denver, even Bermuda, but ultimately decided on Seattle. I choose Seattle because it’s a city that has always held a lot of significance for me, despite never seeing it. Primarily, Seattle is special to me because I’m a lover of all things Grunge.
I realize being born in 1987, grunge was a bit before my time. I certainly wasn’t “of age” during the prime of the era, but it was the first genre of music I ever truly loved. My oldest sister, Shaundi, was “of age” during the height of Grunge. I remember sneaking into her room and hearing these incredible voices escaping the speakers. The voices were loud, angry, and I could barely make out what they were saying, but something about the collision of sounds resonated with my soul.
I was seven years old when Kurt Cobain died. I didn’t really know who he was, other than a musician Shaundi and countless others had cared a lot about. But I do remember when he died. I remember watching the news and seeing these crying teenagers mourning their fallen idol. And of course, I most recently remember the day that Chris Cornell died. Now, understanding where he and his sound came from has all the more impact.
While I loved grunge music since childhood, I didn’t truly understand the force of the music until I reached high school. The rush of emotions and hormones you experience during these years is like an oncoming collision, the sound of grunge was my airbag. So often in life I felt like an outsider, I didn’t feel like I belonged in my small Kentucky town. I felt isolated from the rest of the world. Grunge music made me feel a little less alone. Someone out there understood me. Those someones came out of Seattle.
Most people grow out of grunge like they grow out of Barney. I never did. In high school Nirvana was my favorite, but in college I discovered the depth hiding in the lyrics of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. A new linguistic gem around every corner. To this day, I include Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell on my list of top five favorite voices. Their sound soothes me like a lullaby.
Who knows why people like certain music? I don’t put too much thought into that. What matters is having a music or art that you can lose yourself in. It’s important to be able to turn to a greater power and find peace. No matter what kind of music you like, I hope for your own benefit that you have a collection of musicians that bring you as much joy as the grunge artists bring me.
Naturally, I wanted to visit the city where the sound began. I’d been trying to go for years, but the logistics never seemed to work out. At one point, in 2013, I even applied to an Amtrak essay writing contest. The essay question was where would you go with an amtrak ticket to anywhere? Seattle was my destination. I didn’t win, but the desire to go never left me. The universe was just waiting for the right moment.
Turning thirty and going on an adventure with my boyfriend happened to be the right moment. Seattle was well worth the wait.
New York is undoubtedly the most fabulous city in the U.S., but now, having seen it, I can vouch that Seattle is the coolest. Seattle is a hidden gem when it comes to metropolitan areas. Most people dismiss Seattle because it’s so far removed from everything else and due to its notorious dreary weather. Perhaps I just got lucky, but I didn’t experience a drop of rain during my visit. And the fact that the city was so far removed from everything else was just a bonus.
What I loved most about Seattle was the beauty of the area. The downtown area rests along the Puget Sound. In the background, hiding behind the fog, you can see the gorgeous silhouette of Mt. Rainer. This alone is breathtaking, but there’s so much more beauty to the geographical makeup of Seattle. The city is filled with hills, which offer the most breathtaking of views. My favorite was watching the sunset on Queen Anne Hill.
Seattle’s not just cool on the surface, every corner seems to have a shimmering, undiscovered jewel hiding behind it. One of my favorite, accidental adventures in Seattle happened when we ventured out to Viretta Park to see the one-time home of Kurt Cobain. We expected this to be an actual park, but in reality, it’s a grassy hillside that holds one bench covered in fan remembrances.
As a Kurt Cobain fan, I appreciated the venture to the outskirts of the city to see the area where he called home. However, your average tourist might be furious if they were to venture out the 20-minute drive to see a bench. But the bench was just the beginning of this adventure.
Waiting right down the street was a hidden shoreline where we spent the afternoon laid out, reading our books. It was just us. We had no idea this beach existed, we hadn’t read about it on any of the tourist blogs. It was an unexpected discovery, a hidden gem tucked away in a city overflowing with natural beauty.
I wrote a companion piece to this essay of top things to do in Seattle and despite this beach being one of my favorite parts of the trip I purposely didn’t include it. This is not a place you seek out, it’s something to stumble upon. You need places like this to truly appreciate the magic of Seattle.
We spent four days in Seattle and they were four of my favorite days. Everything about the city felt right, just like the sound of grunge had so many years ago. I missed the city before I even left. It’s not New York, but it doesn’t try to be. Seattle doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not.
Seattle is like one of the most beautiful girls you’ve ever seen. You know the kind. The type who gets by without a stitch of makeup and always looks flawless. There’s nothing misleading about the essence of Seattle. The city is what it is without apology.
For this reason, I’m glad that I waited until my thirtieth birthday to visit Seattle. I firmly believe all things happen for a reason and that’s why none of my prior attempts to visit Seattle worked out. There’s no way I could’ve appreciated the mood of Seattle in my early to mid-twenties, when I was so uncomfortable in my own skin.
Maybe that’s why the grunge sound came out of Seattle, it was a group of misfits who felt secluded from the rest of the world emotionally and geographically. It’s hard to find peace in a city where you don’t mesh with the vibe. And when that happens you find yourself in a state of chaos. To me that’s exactly what the sound of grunge is, beautiful chaos.
My trip to Seattle is one I will always remember fondly. I’ll remember it as the first trip I ever took with my boyfriend and how much fun we had exploring a new city together. I’ll remember the feeling of having my breath taken away by natural beauty, not the man-made kind surrounding me in New York. Most of all, I’ll remember how at ease I felt about reaching a new milestone in my life and how proud I was of all I had accomplished at that point. I’ll remember feeling at ease because that’s just the vibe of the city.
One day I’ll make my way back to Seattle, but until then I’ll romanticize the city even more than I did growing up.