“You look so out of place not only in Seattle but at work, as well.”
I heard these quotes from a coworker who, herself, also feels the same trepidation (oh snap, SAT word, still got it) about being as out of place as I am. While I have my pearl snaps, cowboy fit/boot cut jeans and caiman boots that I wear almost daily, she is covered in tattoos, wears a Harley Davidson t-shirt, biker jacket and ripped jeans up to work each day.
While these may seem like gigantic culture clashes (heck, maybe they are), I can safely say that we get along better than anyone else I’ve met thus far during my time in Seattle. We initially bonded over shared tobacco breaks, Veteran status and hating Seattle. One day, while shooting the shit between Grizzly and Marlboros, we came to realize that much like the Chris Ledoux song, people may have different backgrounds and tokens of their “style,” but that doesn’t mean that each doesn’t value their style as a true reflection of who they are.
As I’ve struggled recently up here in Seattle with the notion of fitting in, coming across a Bostonian who looks totally different than me but experiences the same frustrations has been a breath of fresh air.
I’ll be the first to admit that I place a chip on my shoulder with almost everything I do. This chip is in some ways imagined and in some ways not, I’m self-aware enough to know that. My previous job before this one was within a tech company where I insisted on dressing almost the exact opposite of most employees simply to demonstrate that a Veteran, and cowboy, could in fact be successful within that company. Were their doubts about whether someone who didn’t come from the West Coast could succeed there? You betcha. Did I maybe overplay those doubts as a way of motivating myself to push that much harder? You betcha.
There’s something inherently valuable in the underdog mentality and that’s why come playoffs time, everyone tries to position themselves as the next Rudy, 2004 Boston Red Sox or Sergio Garcia.
I find myself doing the same thing up in Seattle, as well. By approaching everything I do here with the thought that I am representing not only myself, but Texans, millennials, Veterans and country-folk, I’ve managed to continue pushing myself to new levels. It’s almost as if I’m deliberately setting myself into a hole just because I love the feeling of climbing out of it and proving that I can hang here. Is this healthy? Depends who you ask.
Which brings me back to my Harley-riding female coworker. She, like I, feel like our culture is being threatened by the tolerant Mecca that is Seattle. I have Stetsons, she has a leather jacket. Maybe the answer towards solving the assimilation issue in Seattle is to find other minority groups here and break some bread.
I tried looking for fellow country-types up here by attending the PBR event this weekend, and I walked away severely disappointed when someone who was dressed almost identical to me informed me that I had a Texan accent that was unlike any they’ve ever heard before (turns out that person was from Connecticut).
I tried looking for fellow Texans when the Rangers were up here two weeks ago playing the Mariners. That, too, was a bust. Though I did find that true blood baseball fans will respect those who show up to away games wearing their team’s gear. There is something admirable in the inherent loyalty to one’s team and one’s self when on the road. I’ve always been nice to opposing fans who visit the Ballpark in Arlington because I know it takes juevos to show up in that gear when you aren’t sitting directly behind their dugout and are out baking in the centerfield Texas heat with me.
If I didn’t feel like I was going to get shot in the neighborhood where Safeco field is, or if people didn’t eat fucking grasshoppers there, I might actually spend some more time hanging out in that type of environment.
While my search for others who look like me has more or less come up empty, my search for those who don’t fit into the fat part of the bell curve has been resoundingly successful and may just be the key to survival up here. Maybe the commonality is going to be recognizing that I may not be alone in not having anything in common with the rest of the population..
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