I’ve heard time and again that Seattle is a cold place, that the people here are mean; that we’re sarcastic, passive-aggressive and no fun to be around. While this may be true in some cases—I mean, every city has its fair share of introverts and assholes—the years I’ve spent living here have led me to think otherwise.
I was scrolling through Facebook the other day when I came across an event page for a viewing of Halley’s Comet. The event will be held on July 28 at Gas Works Park. I clicked “interested” so I would remember the event later this summer. Maybe I could go with friends.
What I didn’t notice was the year this event was being held. According to the page, Halley’s Comet won’t pass Earth until the year 2061. Yes, there’s an event page on Facebook for something happening nearly four and a half decades from now. (Side note: the last time the comet passed Earth was in 1986)
The page is hosted by Jessica Mayuga and two others—people I have and probably never will meet—whose comments suggest that the page was made for friends, but obviously it grew into something much bigger.
“I can’t believe this Facebook event I had made for me and ten of my friends gained popularity so quickly,” Mayuga said in a post. “For all of you who are worried you may be dead in 44 years, it’s not too late to change some of your lifestyle habits so that you will be able to join us. Eating an antioxidant or two a day surely won’t contribute to your death.”
Last I checked, more than six thousand people plan on attending. Naturally, playful banter ensued.
Some examples of the funnier comments:
“If I’m alive, I’m soooooo there!”
“If I make it to 100 years old, I’ll be there. I missed it the last time.”
“I don’t think I can make it…will send my grandkids!”
Nothing says camaraderie like strangers from the same city trading jokes on the internet. All things said, though I do believe the “freeze” is a myth created by people looking for a reason not to go out, I have to take part of the blame for why this narrative was concocted in the first place.
Most of the time, when I go downtown on my own, I do it to be alone. I do it to get lost in the crowd, to conceal myself in the hustle and bustle of the city. I put in my headphones, tune into my favorite playlist and zone out as I wander down Madison, through Pike Place and along the waterfront. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. It’s how I preserve my sanity.
In moments like that, I must not seem friendly or approachable to the innocent stranger looking for a nod or a smile in passing. The truth is, I don’t expect that from strangers so I don’t think people should expect that from me.
This city is not void of kindness. I’ve seen someone give up their seat to an elderly person on the light rail. I’ve seen someone go out of their way to pick up trash and put it in a garbage can. I’ve seen someone pay a stranger’s bus fare because they didn’t have enough quarters.
This city is replete with kind gestures, and I love it, but I’m not sure I want to live here forever. Who knows, in 44 years I might find myself living happily on the other side of the planet. But, when Halley’s Comet soars above the Space Needle, I promise that I’ll be here in Seattle, wearing a flannel and drinking Rainier out of a can with all you weirdos.
—Nick Turner, News Editor & Managing Editor