I've always been a bit disinterested in visiting places I've been to before. With so many places undiscovered, why spend time and money to re-experience the familiar? It is true that, when planning vacations, one ought to seek out something new. But what about re-visiting the places we have lived, the neighborhoods that were once home?
I occasionally visit Wisconsin only because I grew up there and my family lives there. But I lived in Colorado for 7 years and haven't been back in 9. I lived in Seattle for 5 years, but have only just now returned. I only came because I was already in the US for business and needed to take care of my driver's license and some bank issues which could only be resolved in person. My expectations were low.
As my flight descended into the city that changed me....the city I had loved so much...I wondered whether my memories of the place were accurate. I wondered whether I had only seen what I had wanted to see. I suspected that the magic I once felt in Seattle...the ideas, the pace of life, the subversive humor, the subtle beauty, the amazing food...I wondered how much of it was real.
Well, my first day back in Seattle was probably my best day ever in Seattle. It took only a few minutes to realize that Seattle is, indeed, everything I remember it to be. It is like no other place in the USA. People here cannot help but be inspired by life itself. Much like Manhattan, Seattle feels like an island; a place in which the outside would doesn't really matter. One needs only wake up in Seattle to be inspired to walk around the city, try the food, spend hours in Pike Place Market, go to a few art galleries, go to a club which is maybe just a bit too cool, make eye contact with independent-minded strangers, talk to anybody who is open, and listen to the sea gulls outside your hotel window. Beauty and inspiration is so easy to find here.
I soon realized the extent to which we fail to fully appreciate the place we live. I thought about all the things I should have done, the person I should have been when I lived here, the person I would be if I lived here once again. That first evening in Seattle, I invited out all the friends I hadn't seen for so many years. Amazingly, 22 people showed up. We talked and laughed into the night. I remember a moment when I stood back to look at these friends...good, interesting, intelligent people who I am actually quite fortunate to know...watching them talk with each other...watched old friendships being celebrated and new ones being created...and I realized that such a moment never happened when I was here. I never made it happen. What a pity that I have failed to fully seize the potential of my short time here.
Living in Slovakia, I have now rearranged my life in such a way that it would no longer make sense for me to return to Seattle (at least not at the moment). In fact, I have become much more able to seize the moment since leaving the USA. I have very little to regret about the life I have created and the person I have become. But still, thinking about my current possibilities, thinking about my future, I know that I am still holding back. Visiting a place I once called home, a place I will always love, has left me rejuvenated and ready to face all of the possibilities of my future.
Now it's off to Whistler, B.C. for some skiing, New York for a few nights, and back home to Slovakia.