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When do you become a local Seattlelite?

Seattle Sunset over Elliot Bay

I was born and raised in the Seattle-area (read: suburbs) to parents who migrated West from the great cornfields of Iowa (or something romantic like that). I spent many summers crossing the Western United States on various pilgrimages to-and-from Grandparents houses and I can name all fifty states in alphabetical order and lay them out on a map from memory.

I spent my college years studying hipsterdom first-hand in the great city of Portland, Oregon, but made the journey back “home” to Seattle upon graduation.

I am – and always will be – a native Seattleite.

But as another Seattleite pointed out to me this past weekend – we are “rare.”

So today on Twitter I jokingly asked  –

Because, in all honestly, I don’t know where being a “Seattlelite” starts and ends if you’re (gasp!) imported. And got the following responses –

My question to you  – when do you officially become a local?

Photo Credit: Laura Kimball (me!)

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  • Love this. I, like you spent a lot of my childhood years road tripping across the states, but I never had 1 place to call “home”. I lived in 4 states throughout my school years and went to a new school pretty much every 3 years. Home for me has always been California, although we left when I was in high school. Of course Jason and I are back now, and as far as being a local, it’s taken us until recently to really feel like locals. I’d say it has had everything to do with mindset and being happy where you are, feeling like you’re part of the community, and knowing all of your happy places within the area. 🙂 

    PS> Couldn’t be happier to know such good people that are “Seattleites” … I swear, one day we will get up there and we will be thrilled to have you as our tour guides. Promise we won’t take too many pics of the space needle. 😉

    • The general consensus is that it’s all about how you think of yourself and where you’re from and when it “clicks.”

      Oh, and when you do make your pilgrimage to Seattle, I will gladly take you to the Space Needle and all of our amazing landmarks! I even took a picture of the needle this weekend, granted there was a massive Angry Bird on it 🙂

  • I’ve been in Maine for almost 12 years, but I will always be considered “from away.” You’re only local here if you are born here. At least my sons have a chance to be local Mainahs.

    • Someone responded to my blog offline by saying that at least in Seattle, you have the opportunity to become a “local” whereas some places, like Maine, you don’t. Interesting!

  • Brianne

    When you stop calling it “Pike’s Place”

  • David’s comment cracks me up – he’s so anti Space Needle photos. But here’s the thing, I’m a native also (whole life in suburbs, 8 years in Queen Anne before I moved to SF), and I still was captivated by the beauty of the Space Needle at night here and there. 

    The term Native is pretty loaded to me – it points to a deeper, longer time in the city, chunks of decades or growing up spent there. I don’t think I’ll ever call myself a SF native, even after 10 years, I’ll always be native to Seattle. So really – did you grow up in Seattle? Do you remember Kurt Cobain’s death on the front page of the newspaper? Do you remember when the King Dome was blown up? I think it’d be fun to pull a list of things that would probably help quantify a “native” to Seattle. 😉  

    • Interesting point about “native” vs. “local.”

      Also, you gave me a very dangerous idea for a survey and an infographic, Jeanna…

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  • Harmony

    Here is my response: Day 182: Claiming my right to take pictures of the space needle t.co/pJxZPz8B

    • Love it, Harmony!

      My mom responded to this question (offline). She was born and raised in Iowa and has lived her barely longer than she lived in Iowa. Her answer to the question, “Where are you from?” is similar to yours — it depends where she is geographically at the time.

      Like you, if she’s in Seattle, she’ll answer the place where she grew up. If she’s here, she’ll answer where she was born.

      As you pointed out, this question comes with many, many layers.

      Thanks for writing your own response to this post on your blog 🙂

  • Love this post, missed the tweets. This city has been the source of happiness and heartbreak and I left… for 11 years. I came back and it is a changed and not-so-changed city. I like Brianne’s comment, and also those ppl who call it “Nordstrom’s” like Macy’s or something. tut-tut. I do hear a lot of people new here say it is hard to make friends…

    • It’s funny how a city can change. When I left for college and came back, I thought the move would be “easy” because I was “coming home.” But it took about two years to adjust to living back in the area where I grew up (of course there were other reasons, like growing up and getting married, but who’s counting? 🙂

  • I agree with the others, it’s not a time thing it’s a mind
    thing. Shorts in the rain with socks and Berkenstocks and you’re a Seattleite.  

    • I’ve never worn socks with Birks in the rain, the cork soaks up all the water and makes for some wet socks!

      Socks with Doc Martens though, that has been done…

      Thanks for the comment, Scott!

  • DW

    As soon as you throw away your umbrella. 😉

  • Anonymous

    I say I was born in exile. Lived in Seattle 17 years now and call myself a local.