Neighborhood Breakdown

I’ve been living in Seattle proper since 2009, but have been a regular visitor since 2005 thanks to UW attendance. Since moving to Seattle, I’ve lived in 5 places. I started out in Ballard, west of 24th, then moved to Greenwood for 6 months, then to Fremont for a year, then back to Ballard for 11 months (and the worst living situation ever), and have now landed in wonderful Wallingford.

Ballard: When I first moved to Seattle, I found my new place to live via Craigslist, and moved into a newer condo with 2 guys. It started out really fun, we all got along well, and everyone seemed to mesh. After living there for a month, I started dating someone, and from then on out, we were spending every weekend together. I set my roommate/landlord up with a friend of mine, and they dated for 3 months. But turned out he had some serious OCD, and my friend couldn’t handle dating him and broke up with him. From then on, things turned weird. The 4 of us had a trip to Whistler planned, and my bf (now ex) and I still went with my roommate after the breakup. Basically worst Whistler trip ever. A few months later, my roommate and I were both taking classes at a local college, and after telling him I couldn’t carpool with him to the class one night, he called me a dick for not being able to, and didn’t talk to me for a week. A week later, he told me I had to move out because I’m not as fun anymore because I have a boyfriend and he expected me to party more with him. He said that he had a friend with a dog and she needed a place to live. A few weeks later I moved out, and later I heard he moved the girl in, she stuck around for 3 months and was dating him, and then escaped too.

Greenwood: Since I had to move so quickly, I found a room in a house in Greenwood. I really liked some of my new roommates, but the house was definitely old, and I had a hard time meshing with the guy in the room next to mine. Combined with two occasions of hearing some interesting noises through the wall in the middle of the night, and an offer from a new friend to move into their house, I stayed at this place for 6 months and then headed to Fremont.

Fremont: When I first moved in, I had 3 roommates, but this 6 bedroom house quickly filled up. The view was killer (Ballard and the Olympic Mountains), and everyone was nice, but the house was definitely a party house. Highlights included drunk people locking themselves in the bathroom at 5am because the doorknob fell off, a friend of the house breaking in at 3am because he needed a place to sleep, and probably being lucky my bf was there because I grabbed my pocket knife and headed out to surprise the intruder (bf de-knifed me). It was a fun year, but in the end, I decided I needed to live somewhere a bit more quiet. A friend of mine said they met a girl who seemed cool, and was looking to move to Seattle, so I contacted them and we began a search for a place to share. I found a pretty sweet triplex in Ballard, and we moved in.

Ballard part 2: This turned out to be a nightmare. My roommate was socially awkward, constantly trying to prove herself. Harboring a strange obsession with the local cult church, military guys, and the TV, it was pretty clear we would never be friends, and definitely shouldn’t be roommates. When she got laid off from her job and started spending 24/7 planted on the couch, I knew I had to get out. I’m not really sure how to explain what went on, and I’ve tried to eliminate it from my memory in all honesty. But weird things included the fact that I tried to make her super comfortable with my boyfriend at the time, yet she got a boyfriend near the end, and never introduce him once, and he was there almost every day. When I asked her to have him stop taking my parking spot, things got even weirder. But I moved out a month early, paying double rent that month just to get out. Best memory from the house: in the middle of the night, my ex ran into another dude in our kitchen, just wearing tighty whiteys. The next morning, the roommate called my ex over, and told him, “just so you know, that was my gay friend, and he was sleeping on my blow-up mattress, just so you guys know, my virtue is intact”. SHE SAID THAT! Hilarious.

Wallingford: I found a new place on Craigslist, and it turned out to be the best find ever. My new house is pretty sweet, just four blocks from Green Lake. My roommates, and Sonny the dog, are great, and I’m genuinely happy living there. I’m hoping it lasts a long time. But I really enjoy the neighborhood and Tangletown vibe.

So, I’ve lived in four neighborhoods thus far, and this has me wondering: are all Seattle neighborhoods the same?

Recent conversations with a friend had me thinking about the bar scene. When I was younger (I’m almost 29 you guys, wtf), I definitely thought every bar was different. It was like dude let’s go to the Ballroom to be totally stupid, but hey this mellow night calls for the Parkway, and the loft is so cool for hanging out with a big group! But now I see ever bar is the same. Same people. Same girls looking for free drinks. Same guys looking for girls. Same stupid drunk guy being loud. All expensive. All loud. All the same.

And it’s cool. I’m fine with realizing it’s always the same scene in a different location. And I’ll always have the same few places I really enjoy going. But I do feel like it’s nice to know it’s all the same.

So last night as I headed over to Roosevelt to go to a TRX workout class, I was driving around looking for parking for a few minutes (similar to the standard Capitol Hill routine) and it got me wondering: If all bars are the same, are all Seattle neighborhoods the same?

Wikipedia research shows there are 126 different neighborhoods in Seattle. 126! There are the heavy hitters: Fremont, Ballard, West Seattle, U District, Georgetown, Wallingford, Beacon Hill, Fremont, Capitol Hill, and more. Then there are tiny ones I’ve never heard of: Lawton Park, Stevens, West Edge and Atlantic among others.

When I go to Capitol Hill, I can’t tell if I’m actually there, or maybe in Ballard or Belltown. A night out in Fremont could definitely be a night on the ave in the U-District. And Greenwood, Phinney Ridge, Greenlake, Wallingford might as well merge.

So are these neighborhoods all different like they claim? Or is Seattle just one big place, trying to make 126 different identities to feel better about itself?



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