Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Contemplating Suburbia

I've talked about my encounters with homeless people in Ballard before, and lately it seems that things have started to get worse. Although our Homeowners Association took steps to install a metal door that prohibits street people from sleeping in the alcove where I inadvertently bashed into a homeless person as I left our condo building a couple years ago, I still regularly walk past multiple individuals sleeping on the sidewalk when I walk to the bus stop each morning. Generally, I don't bother them, and they don't bother me. (The panhandlers on Third Avenue downtown are quite a bit more aggressive, but that's a story for another day).

Yesterday I left a little early so that I could drop a couple overdue items off at the Ballard Public Library on my way to catch the bus. As I approached the drop box I noticed a homeless man lurching my way, mumbling to himself. When he noticed me he started shouting, "F*ck yeah, put that sh*t in the box," among other irrational phrases loaded with obscenities, at the top of his lungs. When I proceeded to ignore him and make my way to the bus, he became angry and combative, calling me a spoiled f*cking b*tch, the c-word, etc. I could still hear him screaming from down the street for several blocks.

Once I arrived at the bus stop I joined about a dozen other people waiting for the express bus into downtown. We were almost immediately approached by a woman wearing a blanket and slippers who began to demand money from each person in turn. When she was ignored by most and eventually asked to back away by one man, she became furiously angry and began screaming at the entire group about how we did not deserve her respect, etc. Of course including profuse use of the f-word.

This was definitely not how I had planned on starting my Monday morning. Dude, all I'm trying to do is get to work! It's not even 8 a.m. and I really don't have the energy to deal with this. I'm tired. I feel like a bad person for feeling anger and resentment toward these people who obviously have mental or drug abuse problems, but I can't seem to muster a single ounce of pity. All I'm thinking is, "get me out of this city."

There was a time when I said I would never, ever consider living in the suburbs, and proclaimed my love for city living almost daily. And I have absolutely adored living in Seattle for the past almost eight years. But it's funny how getting married and beginning to think about starting a family can really begin to change your perspective and priorities. I don't want to raise children in a place where they can't return a library book without the worry of being harassed, or worse. Besides that, I want to live in a house where we can have a garage to store sporting equipment, and a yard where the kids can play with the dog. I want to live in a community with a good school district and low crime rates. Stew and I have been doing a lot of thinking, and it's become obvious that we can't attain these goals in the city of Seattle.

Photo courtesy of Issaquah Undressed blog.
So it was ironic that the same day I was verbally attacked by two street people on my way to work that we had plans to check out Issaquah with our friends Tara and Andrew (who grew up there). We met up after work in Issaquah's historic downtown for dinner and then we spent a couple hours just driving around familiarizing ourselves with the different neighborhoods. (We didn't like Issaquah Highlands as much as we thought we would, but we loved the North Issaquah and Cougar Mountain areas).

Stew and I chose to start exploring Issaquah as a potential city to live in because it has a reputation for being very family friendly with good schools, and commute-wise it makes a lot of sense for both of us. Plus it is only 15 minutes from downtown Seattle (actually closer than Ballard!) We like the idea of being able to buy a single family home in a really kid friendly community, while still being close to all the activities we love in the city, like sports, theater and dining.

So we're contemplating. We don't have any major plans yet, but we're definitely leaning in the direction of moving out of the city and into the suburbs. It makes me sad, but also excited. It will be a new chapter in our lives that has so many adventures to look forward to. We'll be sure to keep you posted! (And watch your back in Ballard, homies).


  1. Crazy how Issaquah is over twice as far from Seattle as Ballard is but the commute is the same! Downtown traffic sucks so bad lol. I haven't spent any time in Issaquah but I've heard good things!

  2. I love this post b/c i am pretty much obsessed w/ researching and visiting other cities/towns lol i am a connoisseur of "cute towns" haha! I know exactly what you mean because when dustin got his job in Canby we really had a lot of options of where to live w/in a 30 minute commute. Most of his co-workers live in Portland or Gresham, which is 30 mins but you can always encounter traffic. I was thinking we would totally do city living and looked into a bunch of portland neighborhoods but we went to the downtown portland library and it was the SAME THING.. bums everywhere!!!! the bathroom was packed w/ them and it STUNK! i feel bad for them, i really do, but it's scary when they are asking you for money,etc and you have your kid w/ you. We went to the children's section of the library & abraham, who was potty training at the time, had to pee, which means you get to the bathroom asap, well, it was locked, i had to ask for a KEY to get in! And of course, someone was also in it, so we had to wait like 15 mins... crazy! That would never happen in Silverton! Our library is so cute and awesome and not one bum lives here!! the bathroom is clean and there are actually a few of them! ;) Kids ride bikes, skateboards, scooters, and walk through town all by themselves, the pool is right next door and so is the park, along w/ the community center and the creek which is FULL of kids swimming in the summer, there are two dance studios downtown where you can see little girls in tu-tu's running across the road every day! Along w/ the little boys exiting the karate place! it's so ideal! I say RUN to the burbs or small towns!!! We also looked into several "burbs" of Portland and the actual small town dustin works in but Silverton is awesome, plus 15 mins to Salem for minor league baseball, malls, parks, etc and 45 mins to downtown portland. I always thought the towns on the islands around seattle were cute, like on whidbey island like Coupeville.. too far though, or Poulsbo-- have you ever been there? looks so cute, but when i was researching moving to either seattle or portland, issaquah was one of the places i had picked!

  3. i hear that there's a really great teacher named miss davis in the school district :)

  4. That's where I always recommend coastie wives to lookng if they are transferring to Seattle. Good luck with the future house hunting!

  5. It's definitely a lot of fun to live in Seattle, but I can't imagine being here long term either. Though, there are a few neighborhoods I could see settling in if I were rich. But that's probably not going to happen.

  6. I've always lived in the suburbs, i think living in the city would be fun for a while, but not sure its for me.

    love jenny xoxo

  7. Thank you everyone for your advice and thoughts! This will be a big decision/change for us but I think it will be very worth it in the end.

  8. Nick and I have been in Seattle now for about 10 years (including our time at UW) and I think we'll be here for a couple more years and then off to suburbia too (probably Kirkland or Bellevue). We love living in Seattle, but I think once kids coming into the future we're going to head east! (And we both work on the Eastside!) But I think we'll wait a couple more years or so. Keep us posted!

  9. This is exactly why I moved back to Idaho... Well, that and the crappy NW weather. I love that Dylan can ride his bike to school, walk to friend's houses, and I have a 2-car garage packed to the gills with sporting equipment :). If we still lived in Seattle, Capitol Hill for that matter, he wouldn't be allowed out on his own until at least the age of 33!


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