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Over the July 4th holiday, my friend Leigha, her husband, and their two small children came to visit Seattle. They stayed with me and Paul in our apartment, and it was a little crowded, but we had a great time. We walked to the Space Needle, rode the monorail downtown, went to the public market and Olympic sculpture garden, and ate conveyor belt sushi.
I was amazed we were able to fit so much in because everything moves at a slower pace when you have a two-year-old and a six-year-old in tow. There are a lot of trips to the potty and breaks for resting and snacking.
During one of these breaks at the public market, we were standing around near the stairs that lead down to the waterfront. Leigha was fishing fruit bars for the kiddies out of a massive backpack, and her husband was recuperating from carrying his daughter on his back for the last ten blocks.
“Look, there’s a man on the wall!” one of the kids said, pointing. We looked up, and sure enough, there was a small, silver man holding a light bulb, walking on the side of the wall.
“Wow!” I said. “I’ve been here a bunch of times, and I’ve never noticed that before.” We looked around and saw another one, along with a chalk drawing of a robot on the sidewalk with an arrow pointing down the stairs, which we decided to follow.
There’s something to be said for standing still.
Normally I walk fast, and I don’t tend to stay in the same place for very long. Paul and I moved to Seattle last July, and already we are moving again. At the end of the summer, we’ll move to Minneapolis for a year (for his job), and then it will be on to somewhere else.
In some ways, moving is great. I gain new experiences, new perspectives, new possible settings for my stories. I’ve read that moving can make you smarter because getting to know a new city encourages the growth of neural pathways in your brain. Plus, I’m gaining an impressive list of places I’ve called home. Once we’re settled in Minnesota, I can brag that I have lived in all of the following U.S. regions: the deep south, Appalachia, the east coast/mid-Atlantic , the northeast/New England, the west coast, the Pacific Northwest, and the mid-west.
But all this moving means I don’t always have time to get to know each city in a meaningful way. Moving a lot might grow your brain, but staying in one place develops roots. And without those, I’ll always be a tumbleweed and never a mighty tree.
In the afternoon, we finally made it to the Olympic Sculpture Park. We sat on some rounded benches in front of a large fountain and ate more snacks. “That man is taking a shower,” the kids said, pointing to the fountain. Yet again, I’d been blind. I hadn’t noticed the statue of a man standing in the middle of the sprays of water.
While Leigha went to ask a nearby coffee shop if her son could use the bathroom, we mosied around by the fountain, and after a while we realized that the benches we’d been sitting in were actually a large pair of eyes if looked at from behind.
You know, I do hope to settle somewhere in the next few years. I want to plant a few roots. There’s something to be said for staying in one spot for a while. You notice more that way.
But until I can settle down, I will try to move at a slower pace and develop the curious eyes of a child. Eyes that look in unexpected places and see the things that others tend to miss.