May 23rd, 2020
Capital of the Pacific North West, Seattle is situated on a narrow piece of land with sea on each side (the Puget Sound and Lake Washington). A city that’s famous for a number of attractions such as Starbucks Coffee, the Space Needle, Microsoft and Amazon… but the first thing most people think of when they hear Seattle, is rain – hence the nickname Rain City.
I didn’t move to Seattle because of its attractions, I went there to work as an Au Pair. I thought of it as an avenue that could lead to greater things – a gateway to the rest of the United States, specifically New York City and the California Coast…
I arrived in August when summer was drawing to a close. A few sunny days allowed me to visit one of the most iconic nearby landmarks, Mount Rainier and I had time to familiarize myself with quirky neighborhoods, downtown and the nearest Public Library. By the end of October, most days were cloudy and required a rain coat. I started to wonder if Seattle’s weather was E.L. James’ inspiration for naming her novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
Coming from Sunny South Africa, the ongoing gloominess started to get to me. Back home we used to celebrate rain by making pancakes, often by candle light, because the power usually goes out when it rains. We’d play cards or board games and go to bed early, being lulled to sleep by heavy raindrops clattering on the roof, knowing that we’ll wake up to a crisp sunny morning that smells nature-fresh. In Seattle, however, rain smelled like nothing and didn’t taste like pancakes – it was just another day.
To an Au Pair rain limits the activities you can plan for kids, it cancels weekend hikes and makes it uncomfortable to go out on the town. I started to feel miserable, but whenever a surprise sunny day came along, I realized that I was able to really appreciate it and that I’ve been taking good weather for granted for a quarter of a century!
Six months of non-stop rain made me lose track of time, so I’m not sure when exactly I fell in love with Seattle, but I did. I knew it was love, because it’s not a feeling brought about by its outside appearance (yet it is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen to date), it came through struggle, lessons and acceptance.
The beauty of Rain City does not lie in its tourist attractions, it’s in the evergreen trees and cherry blossoms, the masses of water surrounding its curves, the magical sunsets we most likely would not have chased was it something that occurred every day.
When I finally put my selfish needs and expectations aside, Seattle turned out to be so much more. My perspective began to shift and instead of being focused on the constant rain, the veil has lifted and I could see the rainbows.