By Ed Harris, Jewish Sound Columnist
On a recent trip with my now-adult daughter to see family in Florida, I reminisced about her initial visit to the Sunshine State, when she hadn’t even reached her first birthday, and wondered where all the time went. One minute, she was an adorable baby, screaming endlessly throughout the night, making uninterrupted sleep an impossibility, and then you turn around to find she’s celebrating her third wedding anniversary to a wonderful son-in-law. Yet during this stretch of years, I’ve stayed the same, haven’t I? Mostly, I suppose, if you ignore the increasing baldness and an inability to stay awake past 9:00 on a school night.
The changes in Seattle since we relocated from Northern New Jersey have been no less dramatic than those of my family. When we moved here in 1990, the town had a great basketball team — the Supersonics — but they rolled up the sidewalks at sundown, or so it seemed to a New York native like me. And that was Seattle. Downtown Bellevue was merely a handful of medium-sized office buildings and a few strip malls surrounded by sprawling parking lots.
Now the Emerald City is vibrant and bursting with energy, especially in certain trendy neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and South Lake Union. Bellevue is a bit too well organized and wealthy to qualify as cool, although I understand we have our own legal retail pot store, or will soon. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, New York. Yes, it’s true the Sonics have decamped to some obscure Midwestern state, breaking many hearts in the process, yet they have been at least partially replaced by the Sounders, whose passionate soccer fan base validates Seattle’s hipness bona fides.
Like almost all the other baby boomers, when we settled in the area, we bought a house in the suburbs, replicating in many respects the lifestyle of the generation that preceded us. Indeed, I have continued a personal family tradition inherited from my father — neglecting the yard. Our tired patch of dried-out scrubland stands in sharp contrast to the lush, green fairway-quality lawns of our two next-door-neighbors. One of them has a yard maintenance company do the work for him at considerable expense; the other spends long hours in a combination of intense physical effort and tender loving care keeping all the vegetation verdant. I, on the other hand, do neither, avoiding both the expense and personal workload, much to the chagrin of my wife. I explain that life is a series of compromises, and every extra hour spent in tedious manual labor is an extra hour spent in tedious manual labor. She’s had many decades of practice listening to my flimsy excuses of why tasks go undone. Add another to the list.
Regarding the home, which now has too many bedrooms and bathrooms, while we aren’t empty nesters quite yet, we can read the tea leaves. Said daughter is married, our own personal version of the Sonics, her departure undertaken amid a shower of tears (mine, not hers). Our middle son is in college, and our youngest will be starting his second year of high school in September. The allure of the Seattle coffee shop lifestyle beckons.
Our last legal minor among the brood, Izzy, is adamant about not wanting to move while still in high school. Nonetheless, he has made it quite clear that when we are finally bankrupted by his attending the most expensive college available, he also wants to make sure the school is located a considerable distance from home. Somehow, we’re supposed to stay contently in place until he’s ready to split the scene.
While I may be old enough to qualify for a senior discount at Sports Clips (why I bother with haircuts at all is another of life’s mysteries), what would prevent the missus and me of partaking in the local hipster vibe on the other side of the lake? I may be bald, but I am not relieved of the burden of shaving and therefore can still grow a goatee, or even, dare I say it, a soul patch. How come the kids are the only ones allowed to dream of the future?