Over the past two weeks I have been soaking up my time being back in my hometown of Seattle. It is such a breath of fresh air for me to be back among the trees, mountains, water and fresh air. Even just stepping out of the car after pulling up in front of my house from the airport, I took a deep breath in of the moisture filled air which was such a welcome relief in comparison to the humid thickness of the air that I had come from in Washington, D.C.

But being back in the city I love and grew up in among my favorite coffee shops, restaurants, shops, and hikes, I have been thinking about how much a place can shape a person. Especially the place where someone grows up.

But being back in the city I love and grew up in among my favorite coffee shops, restaurants, shops, and hikes, I have been thinking about how much a place can shape a person. Especially the place where someone grows up.

One of the things I have enjoyed most about college is meeting people from so many different places. Especially being in Washington, D.C. a place that is truly a melting pot of different states and countries. It is extremely interesting to hear people talk about their love, or perhaps hatred for the places they grew up.

What is even more intriguing is that often you only hear people give you descriptions of where they are from, few are fortunate to actually travel to the places that shaped their best friends, roommates, and other acquaintances. It is so hard to put into words a place that has shaped you and that you have so much passion and first-hand experience with.

For me, I struggle to describe to people that I live in the city of Seattle, but I do not live in downtown Seattle, but I also definitely do not live in the suburbs. Seattle is a city with sprawling city limits and a collection of neighborhoods. I live in Northeast Seattle in a smaller, tucked away neighborhood.

When someone asks if this is a suburb I immediately say no. The houses around me are not cookie cutter subdivision houses, which is what I picture when I think of suburbs, and as my friend pointed out, there are grocery stores, pharmacies, a library, and banks all within walking distance of my house which is an indicator of a city. But even after this description I still get some confused looks in return and I struggle to find ways to describe the blocks I have walked and become familiar with for 20 years.

You have to see a place and be in it to fully experience and understand that place.

A downside of being from the west coast while going to school on the east coast is that you don’t get many friends visiting you during the summers, but it’s also not easy for me to travel to see my friends in their hometowns and in their “natural” environment.

I do get to see glimpses of these places though, because everyone’s hometown rubs off on them in some way. There are quirks, mannerisms, personalities that people pick up from the places they were born and raised. For some people, it may be a bit more obvious such as their accents, or phrases they use. But for other people the way their hometowns have rubbed off on them are a bit more subtle or nuanced.

One of the things I have noticed about how Seattle has rubbed off on me is the way I dress, or plan to dress for certain occasions. The dress I think might be perfect for a sorority formal is deemed too causal or more appropriate for work by my roommate from New Jersey. I go back to my closet or start looking for other things in these cases, all the while craving being back home where it is acceptable to wear jeans to the theater.

I also think that I tend to be a bit more laid back and relaxed about things in comparison to friends from other places, namely the friends that I have from the eastern seaboard. I also have noticed myself becoming closer to people from places that I think are similar to Seattle such as North Carolina and Vermont whether this be coincidence or on purpose, I am not totally sure.

I think sometimes we forget how the places we are from can become so engrained in ourselves and how we bring little pieces of those hometowns with us wherever we go. It puts a smile on my face to think that you can take a girl out of Seattle but you can’t take Seattle out of a girl and I think everyone can say that about the place where they grew up.