As a student, there are few moments quite as gratifying as the one when you turn in your final paper for your final class at the end of finals week. Typically, as the paper is handed in, a physical reaction occurs which includes a sudden urge to run through the building shouting “FREEDOM!” (I’m talking Mel Gibson, Braveheart-style). And so, as you can imagine, I was feeling on top of the world on the afternoon of April 16th, when I handed in my Marriage & Family “it’s-only-worth-fifty-percent-of-your-grade” final paper. Enter: FREEDOM!
My roommate and I headed straight to our favorite sushi restaurant and ate celebratory amounts of salmon skin rolls before treating ourselves to an impromptu pedicure for a trimester well done. Afterwards, as we walked to my car, we were relaxed, happy and barefoot. So you can imagine my surprise (read: paralyzing shock) when I tried to unlock my car but was unable to do so because my car was gone.
After assessing the situation for approximately 2.5 seconds, I noticed the “3pm-7pm: TOW AWAY ZONE” sign (which, sadly, was not placed directly at my eye-level). It was 3:24pm. Those tow truck people do not mess around.
Although my freedom celebration was abruptly cut short, the best part is what happened next…
There I was, barefoot on the side of Pike Street, and I knew I had people I could call to come rescue me. Ten minutes later, I was sitting in a fellow Seattle School student’s car as we headed to the tow company (while I passionately yelled all sorts of pleasantries in response to the situation).
This was a distinguishing moment of awareness for me, that although Seattle can still feel so new, I actually have found a place here. I’m not a total stranger in this city; and although my community continues to take shape, it does exist. I think it’s a good indicator, when you’re stranded on the side of the road, that if you’ve got someone, even just one, to call, you’re doing okay.
And five days later, when I was driving up a hill on a bustling street in Ballard and ran out of gas, my passenger immediately jumped out to push my car to the side of the road. Another marking moment – that’s a friend.
And then, three weeks later, when I’m driving to class and accidentally ram my car into a curb in order to avoid being hit by an oncoming bus (which, in retrospect, actually wasn’t close to hitting me at all) and totally busted my front tire, my two passengers kept me calm, changed my tire and shared stories of idiotic mishaps they’ve had behind the wheel as a respectable attempt to make me feel better – and we still made it to class on time. Another roadside crisis in a relatively new city, another distinguishing moment of realizing I’m not on my own.
While I don’t recommend purposely creating such predicaments in order to ensure you’ve got people you could call, when the problems arise (and they do, and they will), it’s comforting to know that this fairly new city with these fairly new people is actually beginning to feel a lot like home.
Note: Seattle actually does have a phenomenal public transportation system. If I’ve frightened you from driving in Seattle (for fear of facing similar circumstances or of sharing the road with me), I highly recommend taking the bus – and you can take comfort in knowing that I’m increasing my use of it, too.