The landscape was lush in every shade of green. The air was a mixture of pine and phlox floating on summer's breeze. The restaurants with their large clear plated glass windows served vegetables grown in gardens down the street. I had avocado for the first time, on a sandwich filled with veggies, a vast departure from the salami and cheese subs I was used to back in New York. Neighbors greeted each other on their brisk walks with their large, hearty dogs walking in unison by their side.
It was here, as a teenager, that I learned about the dangers of pesticides. To rid your garden of snails naturally and humanely just leave out a bowl of beer at night and let them quietly drink themselves to sleep forever! I also discovered the power of almonds and parsley (that garnish I used to throw out became my daily source of Vitamin A) and of nutrition in general.
When I inevitably had to say goodbye to my aunt and uncle at the airport -- under protest from them because it was during the air-traffic controllers' strike and they were convinced it was too dangerous -- I promised to return, like Dorothy in her hot-air balloon declaring her love to the Lion most of all. Just as I'm sure the Scarecrow and Tinman and even the beloved Lion waited futilely for Dorothy, I too never returned.
So for more than three decades now I have been holding a torch for Seattle in the same way a middle-aged woman longs for her high-school crush. You can imagine how excited I was when my son got accepted to the University of Washington. I couldn't wait to go back.
Seattle is still lush and green except for some reason the pine, at least outside our hotel room, smelled of homeless-man sweat. Not literally, mind you. The fragrance of the trees were tangy in a way that urged us to close our patio door. There were still restaurants with vegetables grown in local gardens, except now they are being served by twenty somethings who don't have the energy or care to make eye contact. Neighbors still go on their brisk walk but can't be bothered to lift their Patagonia-clad arms to give a little wave. And I'm sure there are plenty of people who care about the environment and nutrition, because there were tons of Priuses and high-end markets.
So to continue the comparison of the middle-age woman and her first crush, I've gone to my high-school reunion and my once down-to-earth, home-grown local boy has turned into a hipster wannabe. What the Wizard should have told Dorothy is that she is hopelessly naive, while handing her a copy of Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again."