Boys, baristas and burgers

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When you move to a new city, your senses are heightened. You notice that everything feels ‘new’, because your body is picking up on the subtle differences between that place and your previous home.

The salt air here in Seattle is brinier than in Sydney, more pungent. On sunny days, the sky seems bluer here too, perhaps because it contrasts so starkly with the usual grey. The people here are friendlier, especially those who work in stores, “Are you finding everything okay?’.

This heightened awareness, however, does not last. Through a series of simple little acceptances, small snippets of knowing, a place starts to feel like home. The novelty of charming details dissipates, as do the annoying differences (‘I have to pay when someone sends ME an SMS?!’).

Instead those details become part of a fabric called ‘home’. The appreciation may remain, but we come to know those details as the norm. We stop saying, ‘Back home in Sydney…’ and think of the new place as home.

Seattle is now home.

I have started looking after two little boys, aged three and five, once a week. Mostly, our time together is fun, or at least fine. They paint, and play endlessly at a game that I can only describe as ‘not much of anything at all’, but includes lots of running, and uttering of unintelligible words. I even made muffins with the little one, who delighted in cracking an egg for the first time all by himself.

These boys love to stop and smell the flowers, and I mean that literally. Yesterday, a three block walk to the bus took 15 minutes, because they stopped at nearly every garden to smell and admire the flowers. Sweet – a little annoying after 13 minutes – but mostly, sweet.

When I first met them, I was charmed by their strong American accents; it is generally cute to hear any child speak in an accent other than your own. ‘Oh, their R’s are so pronounced – how darling!’

However, that novelty was quickly forgotten yesterday when the oldest one ‘chucked a tanty’ (threw a huge tantrum, for my North American readers). There is nothing cute about a tantrum in an American accent. There is nothing cute about a five year old screaming anything in any accent. (We made up – me and the five year old. Although, I am a forgiver, not a forgetter.)

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The boys at Seattle Center

Yep, Seattle is home.

I have a new local coffee shop now. I thought that it would be Uptown Espresso, which I discovered on a visit here last year, and for a while it was. Their coffee is good, and they are only three blocks away.

They were usurped, however, when I happened upon the smooth smell of well-made coffee wafting from the door of Cafe Lladro, a few blocks further from my home.

Jackpot! Their coffee is great. ‘A double tall non-fat latte, no foam, extra hot,’ has replaced ‘tall, skinny flat white’, and is just as good as Pavel used to make back in Sydney. I never thought I would say that about a cafe in the same city that birthed Starbucks, but I am happy to proven wrong about this particular previous gripe. And I would be remiss not to mention that their friendly efficient service is the icing on the cake. Great coffee and good service. Nice.

Oh yeah, Seattle is home.

Last Friday night there was an impromptu gathering of friends at the loft of Lars and Anya, or ‘Larzenanya’, as they have come to be called. Lars promised us a ‘$25 Hamburger’ – not because that is what they cost to make, but because that is what he could charge in a restaurant. It was a big call.

We arrived to gracious hellos, the pouring of drinks, and burger order forms. In: blue cheese, special sauce, onions, or a combo of these. On: Swiss cheese, Cheddar cheese, or Mozzarella? Done: well, medium-well, medium, medium-rare, or rare. Wow. Not sure on the math, but I approximate at least 1500 permutations of burgers with those options.

Lars manned the grill with confidence and flair. Anya, ever the charming hostess, ran front of house like a pro. Ben, long time avoider of red meat, signed on for the ride.

When my burger was done, I added my fixings, and savored the anticipation. Onions in, and Swiss cheese on a medium-rare burger with barbecue sauce, ketchup and mustard.

Phenomenal. I was delighted by every bite, and judging from the lull in conversation throughout the room, so was everyone else, including my mostly-vegetarian boyfriend.

This month Seattle Magazine has readers voting on the best burgers in Seattle. I would argue heavily that the Larzananya’s Burger should win.

For sure, Seattle is definitely home.

I have said before that Ben and I do not know what the future holds for us both professionally, so therefore do not know where work will take us in the coming years. For this reason, we are truly savoring all the little things about Seattle that make it home.

It’s natural beauty takes my breath away. The wonderful friendship we continue to make, make my heart full. That I am picking up some work outside of home is a blessing (no matter the little ‘moment’s that come with child-minding).

I knew well before I moved here that I could happily live in Seattle. And now I do.

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