It was nearly two months ago that I moved to Seattle. This is the first move I have made across the country and it has been the first move I have made without my worldly possessions being carted around in a car, rented U-haul truck, or an SUV. Besides Jerusalem, which was less of a move than a temporary stay so that I could get some serious Jewish education, this has been the farthest I have lived away from my parents. It has thus far been quite the interesting transition.
The Decision to Move
It was sometime in October of last year that I made the decision to move, during a visit. I was at the time considering a move out here but I wanted to make sure it would be viable both in the economic sense and in the religious sense – meaning that there should be a good Jewish community that I would be moving into. One of the first things I saw was the possible apartment I would be moving into. The apartment was in the same buiding that my girlfriend’s brother and his roommate live in – which was good in that I would immediately have close access to a friendly face or two. (It certainly doesn’t hurt that he has a large video game and dvd / music collection to occasionally borrow from.)
Seeing the apartment, I was stunned. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was just a bit sleep deprived, not having slept well the night beforehand, but the apartment was amazing. One bedroom, a large living room, spacious kitchen, a full bathroom, all for less than what I was paying for what was essentially a kitchen pantry turned into a living space. About one hundred dollars less, to be exact. To say the least I was immediately sold on the apartment. The fact that it had close access to bus stops which could take me into downtown Seattle was also a strong selling point. The religious aspect still remained a question, however.
I started searching for religious institutes in Seattle, something I probably should have done more of when I was in New York. I stumbled upon the Seattle Kollel, which to me was a good sign for a religious community. I found the phone number of one of the Rabbis in Seattle and called – only to find an answering machine. I realized that since I was going to be spending Shabbos in Seattle, it would be good to find somewhere I could go in West Seattle – assuming that there was somewhere to go in West Seattle. If there were no place to go to pray in West Seattle on Shabbos, West Seattle might not be the place to live.
I kept on calling and eventually got in contact with Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz, or at least, his answering machine. His answering machine message was quite friendly and reassuring, and I intoned that I needed to find a place to pray on Shabbos. Within about half an hour, he called me back and was ecstatic to hear that I was considering moving to West Seattle. He told me that he had recently moved to West Seattle and that he was one of the rabbis at the Seattle Kollel – and he was actively seeking people to come to his house (the temporary place of worship until another would be found) to pray on Shabbos. I started thinking that perhaps it was meant for me to move out to Seattle at this point in my life. I had been thinking to myself, “If only there were some sign so that I could see that I should or shouldn’t move here….” This seemed to be a pretty good sign. After spending the first Shabbos at the Rabbi’s house I was more sure of this and I decided that I definitely would move.
I had agreed with my mother that the move to Seattle wouldn’t happen all at once, and that I would give it a trial run of about six months to see how I liked it. I therefore left the majority of my things at my mother’s home in New Jersey and found myself with a new problem: how to get the rest of my things to Seattle. Many suggestions were tossed about including renting a truck and driving to Seattle, or shipping my things via bus. In the end I ended up shipping my things via the US mail. This ended up being problematic as some of my things somehow didn’t make it to Seattle. I’m not sure if there was some displacement during the shipping process which caused things to have to be repackaged, and therefore things were somehow lost, or if there was minor theft, but I definitely did not receive everything I sent.
There was then the problem of the furniture, or the lack of furniture. As of this writing I still do not have anything remotely resembling a couch or a futon to sit on while watching the television, but I did manage to get an amazing deal on a television at Costco, along with a television stand and a home entertainment system. Useful, I thought, for watching films or playing the occasional video game. My girlfriend’s father found a lovely four person table which is now sitting in the living room. I (hopefully) wisely decided to avoid joining a gym and instead bought the one piece of gym equipment I ever used while at the gym, that is to say the elliptical machine. Coming with a three year warranty, I forsee many hours of grueling (yet worthwhile) exercise coming out of this machine.
Though I have learned that if anything, a person absolutely needs a car (or at the very least a bicycle) to live in Seattle, things have been going fairly smoothly since I first moved out here. Seattle may not be the place I spend the rest of my life (I sometimes consider spending a year teaching English in Japan) it will certainly be a good place for the time being. I most certainly have never had this much fun singing karaoke at a bar. Perhaps I will have to delve into that at some point in the future.