It was a sunny Easter Day, just as it is today in Seattle. The cherry trees were floating like white overwhelming clouds all over the city. But this was 20 years ago. I had landed in Seattle for the first time a little more than two weeks before, and here I was on Salish Lodge at the top of Snoqualmie Falls, the big room packed with dressed up people having Easter brunch. Not me though, I was in company with a KIRO news team covering the Easter story.
Now, for those of you who aren’t Seattleites: Salish Lodge and Snoqualmie Falls is Twin Peaks country. Snoqualmie Falls is the impressive waterfall pretty much a character in the TV series, and Salish Lodge the Great Northern Hotel where Agent Cooper stayed through his unforgettable investigations of the murder of Laura Palmer. So this is historic land, and back in 1993 still warm from David Lynch presence.
It’s funny; suddenly I can feel the smell of waffles. Yeah, I remember the big waffles served with I think maple syrup at the tables of the lodge that Easter day. Big families together. Little girls in cute dresses playing with their Easter bunnies. I felt impressed, a bit unreal, estranged but at home. Since my company was a TV crew.
It’s interesting reading my journal from these early weeks of my first Seattle stay that would last for three months. I was an overworked stressed out TV reporter back in Sweden, and since Christmas I had been looking forward to having oceans of time off with my young sons who at home hardly saw their mom, picturing us just lying in bed reading children’s books, cuddling and sleeping. At this Easter Day Trouble 2 had just turned 5 and Trouble 1 would turn 7 in a couple of weeks.
So, what happened? What did I do? Well, on my second day in this foreign city in a foreign land on a foreign continent I walk up to a TV crew that we happen to run in to on our first visit at Seattle Center and asked them if I could come visit at the station and maybe go with them on a story. That’s what happened. That’s what I did. On my second day.
Now, note, that I am also every day in my journal expressing my discontent about my English. How I am struggling with the language. How I constantly stumble and fall as soon as I am trying to express anything. Anything. And how American English feels totally foreign to my pretty little British school English, which in combination with my Swedish accent makes people just don’t understand what I am saying. My everyday English lesson is picking one article in Seattle Times, reading it top to bottom and looking up every single word I didn’t understand. Every single one.
Yet, here I am, on Easter day at Easter brunch on famous Salish Lodge on top of the falls with reporter Bob Branom and cameraman John Sherman from KIRO. And during those first three months in Seattle I am lining up visits at KING, KOMO and PBS Channel 9, all the TV stations in Seattle. I am also doing freelance work for Swedish National Television SVT, enjoying the crew feeling with KIRO cameraman John Sherman, bless you John! And participating in an underground live broadcasting with some young Nirvana-Soundgarden grunge siblings. Yes, 20 years ago was sure land marking times in modern Seattle history.
Now, was this a good thing or not? Yes, I would say it was. I am very conflicted about my constant urge for being productive. My drive and my power to act on what makes me move forward. My pulse for all kinds of creativity. Even today, on my couch handicapped from pain I am constantly active. Now, it’s a lifeline. But “just being”, now and back then, is a skill I can’t say I am mastering.
So, did I screw that whole stay up? No, I didn’t. I can honestly say. My sons and I had lots of cuddling time. And we did everything two little boys could possibly wish for in Seattle. The Zoo, the Space Needle, the Monorail, the Fun Forest, the Aquarium, Snoqualmie falls, swimming in Lake Washington, eating tons of pizza and burgers, and playing and flying kites in Gasworks Park. And we laid the ground for the love of a city that’s been in our harts and lives for 20 years now, and continuously will.
And for myself? Well, I remember exactly the moment when I switched from my cute awkward school English and became an American, as much as I could. Although I (on a very good day) am even mistaken for being one, I am still struggling with the language, always wanting to express more than I am able to. And I know, if I ever had the chance arriving in a new city in a new country with a new language, I would do it all over again. Just dive right into it.
Trouble 2 turned 25 two days ago. He lives in Paris now, where the cheery trees are floating like white overwhelming clouds. He moved there not knowing one single word of French. One of his jobs is as an afternoon nanny in a family where the children don’t know any English. Trouble 2 is, at 25 learning French the same way that he as a 5-year old learned English. He has dived into a new city, a new country and a new language. And he likes it. And is doing good. Did I screw up our first Seattle stay exactly 20 years ago? No, I don’t think so. I think I did good.