Curated Lives

by Chris de Serres

For quite some time I have thought about it.  Moving closer to the mountains.  To the parks.  On mornings like this, when I wake up to the persistent bark of my neighbors dog.  It just goes on for hours and hours.  There are alot of people in Seattle.  In Washington State.  Too many.

Just a couple of years ago I could always expect to find an open campsite along the beautiful Icicle Creek.  We’d drive in on a Friday night to a “campgrounds full” and drive back to the local Bavarian village to hunt down a $300 a night hotel.

Seattles skyline is literally being reshaped by dozens of cranes.  You can see them in every direction.  Amazon has staked their claim between downtown and Capitol Hill.  Their campus features numerous biodomes that allow their techies to hang out on their computers without actually being social.  The Starbucks phenomenon.

We are perpetually connected to each other.  To information.  The new frontier is being able to curate your environment.  We see it already in politics.  Conservatives and liberals can exist in entire worlds made to tell them what they want to hear.  We are seeing this being pushed into the academic environments, with the controversial ‘safe spaces.’  The new segregation, yet this is by choice.

I’m an introvert.  My social circle is small and it’s practical.  My friendships are guided by my passions.  There are big climbing organizations, such as the one I belong to.  But when you find a good climbing partner, you don’t want to climb with anyone else.  A good partner is everything.  Your organization is simply where you go to share your great adventures or get ideas for new one’s.  Someone has always climbed something you’ve been meaning to.  If I want to feel lazy I go on Facebook and look at all the photo albums of my friends seemingly climbing every weekend and many weekdays.  Do these people have jobs?  Families?  I shake my head in frustration.

Then I decide to quit my job.  So I can do whatever it is that they do.  But then I don’t.  I have a family and bills.  Life is not fair.

I don’t know if there is any place so curated as Seattle.  We love our cliques.  We are guided by our activities.  When you first move here you experience the dreaded Seattle freeze.  You meet alot of good people and try to establish friendships, but there’s a palpable lack of follow through.  It’s difficult to build your social circle in this town.  With the influx of techie companies, and their socially awkward hordes, don’t expect that to get any easier.

I like to think that Seattlites are a bit like me.  We value what we do and who we do it with.  It takes time to trust our passions with someone new.  When we do, and it’s a great fit, we feel a great reward of a new partnership.  New friendships are a remarkable and unexpected gift.  They breathe life into everything.

I’ve been thinking about this as the mornings are colder and the days get shorter.  I’m already thinking about Spring.  All the mountains I may or may not climb, and those who I may or may not climb with.  I’ve got to plan early to keep up with all those unemployed dirtbag climbers living the life.