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I am in Washington! As I write this, I have been at my new home for about sixty hours, and so far, it has been quite a whirlwind.

Less than four hours after I picked up my apartment keys, I hopped into my car and drove across to my first Seattle party. So far I have been to two parties and am about to go to my third. I have gone to Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Safeway, and Pet Smart. I have enjoyed the view from Lake Union. I have gone dancing. I have explored a bit of the downtown of my little city, and I have played a bunch of air hockey. I have seen several friends and met a bunch of new people, almost none of whose names I can remember. I have, most important of chores, set up the internet. I have done a load of laundry to clean up the end-of-road-trip doggie vomit mess.

Nala and I have established our new daily walking route, and it is so exciting! There are some old abandoned railway tracks right behind our building, and if you follow them a little ways, they join with a lovely gravel walking path. The area is surrounded by trees, and it is the best daily walking spot we’ve ever had. We’ve been taking longer walks than usual because it’s so pleasant.

My apartment is not quiet. The downstairs neighbors play music all the time. The neighbors who share my bedroom wall had a lovers’ quarrel at 1:30am on Saturday night. Ear plugs are my friends. My allergies are acting up because of all the pollen-producing plant life around here. I woke up in the middle of the night when my air mattress deflated and ended up breaking my fingernail below the quick while fixing it, resulting in a throbbing and bleeding finger at 3:30 in the morning. Nala is nervous. One of my dance partners threw me around in an unexpectedly rough manner, and I hurt my shoulder before I could compensate for his use of force.

I am either too hot or too cold, but very rarely completely comfortable. Everyone in Seattle hangs out outdoors at night, even though it’s cold. I sleep with my electric blanket turned on, even though it’s July. I wish I had packed more sweaters. But then sometimes the sun comes out and because of all the layers from the time it was cold, it becomes suddenly sweltering.

Everywhere I look there is beauty.

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I feel like I am living in a picture book my mom used to read me every year the night before the first day of school. “Will you be my friend?” I don’t know who I’m going to see once in a while, and who I’m going to see all the time, and who I’m mostly going to see at parties, and who I’m going to see one-on-one. I don’t know who to ask to watch Babylon 5 with me, and I don’t know who would want to go to the theater with me, and I don’t know if I know any live music fans. I do know that I will be able to play board games to my heart’s content and then some.

I know a lot of people here, and everyone so far has been so thoughtful and helpful and wonderful. And I see my friends, and I think, with a small jolt of surprise, oh my goodness, I really like you! This shouldn’t be a surprise, since this is one of the reasons I moved here, but nevertheless, it feels like an unexpected gift. I’ve spent the last few months managing my expectations like a pro.

I take comfort in the things that are the same. Nala is my touchstone. I listen to familiar albums in the car. I have a friend I message almost every day, and we still message almost every day. I still love pie, and otters, and Disneyland. The “i” key on my laptop still pops off all the time in a really annoying way.

Last night I dreamed it was Valentine’s Day, and I was feeling sad, and then my friends threw a spectacular surprise party for me, and I was so happy to see everyone. And then I woke up, and I thought to myself, yes, of course. It feels like you are all right here with me.

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