Sunday, May 24, 2015

Maura: Buffalonian or Seattleite?

(A few days ago I was wondering at what point I stopped thinking of myself as a Californian and began identifying with other places I lived.  I asked Maura if she now felt like a resident of Seattle or if she still thought of herself as a Buffalonian.  This was her reply. I think she made so many good points that I could not resist – with her permission – posting it as a blog in its own right.)

I have been in Seattle for nearly 14 years ( I arrived in June).  I definitely feel like it is home.  It is funny you asked because I was recently thinking about how I perceived the city when I first moved here.  I remember getting lost in locations that I now know like the back of my hand.  Also, I think it feels more like my permanent home because of Dan. When I married him I knew I was also marrying Seattle in a way because I would have a very hard time getting him to move anywhere else.  I guess that is kind of like when Pat married Rita or Eli married MB.  We have recently seen a huge influx into Seattle, mostly related to Amazon hiring.  A constant dialog here is about the sky rocketing rents, the awful traffic and the insane amounts of construction.  It is funny because I find myself sympathizing with the complaints about how the city is not the same because of the rapid growth and how if it continues Seattle will lose its character.  Then I remember that I am one of the émigrés. 

Still, I will always think of myself as from Buffalo.  There is definitely a part of my personality which was formed by my Buffalo upbringing and I don’t think that will ever leave me.  I love Seattle, I enjoy the people and like that it is a very socially conscious and environmentally conscious area.  People tend to be educated, there are a lot of cultural opportunities as well as a diversity of cultures/backgrounds that does not exist in Buffalo.  There are many professional opportunities.  But Buffalo has a gritty aspect that I think I benefited from.  People are just more real and honest there.  The poverty is more in your face and nobody tries to white wash it.  There is a history there of families who have lived there for many generations, ever since their relatives arrived at Ellis Island.  People my age talk about the old days of Seattle with Boeing and grunge and cheap and easy access to things like skiing and camping.  That is not a Seattle I ever knew.  When I hear my Buffalo friends talking (via FB mostly) about Bethlehem Steal, and the Elmwood Strip, and sledding at Chestnut Ridge that is my personal history and identification. 

So, I’m not sure if I will ever be able to say I am from just one place.  Both have impacted who I am and what I do.  When I am in Seattle it will often come up that I am from Buffalo.  Many here are not “natives” so it is a common conversation starter.  But, when I go elsewhere I always identify myself as being from Seattle.  All in all, I will take it.  I always feel a bit sorry for people like Dan or Rita or my Long Island and Buffalo friends who have lived in one area for their whole life.  It seems so limiting. I know my personality changes in each place I live.  I am drawn out by different aspects of each culture.  If you never have a change of environment then you never really have the opportunity to explore some different facets of your personality. 

Well, that was more of a dissertation than you were probably asking for, but I find it is an interesting topic.   It would be interesting to put together a collection of essays by different people with different backgrounds and experiences on what “home” means to them.  It is so important, but so different, for each of us.