by Kirby Lindsay
This column originally appeared in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook on February 8, 2006 – so add a few more years to the ten mentioned below…
Ten years ago, when I was 10 years younger, I decided my world would be perfect if only I could relocate my entire neighborhood of Fremont to someplace warm, like Arizona.
Only one aspect of Fremont in particular, and Seattle in general, do I detest with a deep seated hatred and all the malice to which I’m capable.
One feature I would change when crowned ‘Queen of the World’ or when I’ve captured the genie in the lamp.
One fact I’ve traveled thousands of miles to escape only to return because one negative isn’t enough to outweigh all the positives.
That one thing is our weather.
I love nearly everything about Fremont. I love our attitude, our artists and our aroma, now that the dog food factory makes movies. Things that others find frustrating – our lack of process, our lack of cohesion and our incredible ability to imprint our personality on anything that comes within our orbit – I take joy in.
While art doesn’t always stir me – don’t get me started on Lenin – I pity comunities that exist without such whimsies on their street corners.
However, an unceasing rain and insidious damp that delivers a cold chill into the marrow of my bones deserves a bizarre solution. I never called it bizarre, of course; it’s creative problem-solving.
Certainly, I’ve never been to Arizona, but the image of a semi-paradise of toasty, sun-baked soil warms the mildewing cockles of my heart.
When friends and neighbors rebuffed my daring plans to relocate the whole community, I grew incensed. If we pride ourselves on being freethinking and alternative, why not prove it with an audacious move?
Luckily for them, and me, years have passed and I have grown up and, against all my efforts, grown ever so slightly smarter. And I finally figured out what they knew without the necessity of ten years of brain thumping.
Fremont can not be transplanted.
I always assumed Fremont was Fremont despite Seattle, and all that surrounds us. However, ten years’ experience taught me Fremont can only be Fremont in the United States.
It is only in this country with its confusing mix of freedom of speech and independence that we could declare ourselves an Artist’s Republic and Imagi-nation.
In this country with its social programs that make public art, population variation and liberty of movement possible regardless of ability - financial, physical or otherwise.
Fremont does not exist in a vacuum. We stand as different from Ballard as night from day, it often seems, and we thrive off that difference. Many Fremont business owners live in Ballard, or Queen Anne, in calm and quiet familial comfort, but prosper here amid our colorful chaos.
Forced to work with Wallingford by city planning policy exposed our differences and, hopefully, taught us that our helter-skelter ways just might improve with an occasional dose of Wallingfordian thoughtful planning.
Younger, and dumber, I’d daydreamed of a self-governing Fremont with its own mayor, police force and border patrols refusing entrance to anyone lacking a sense of humor.
However, while we occasionally chaff under city dictates, they assume responsibility for neighborhood concerns that leave us free to create parades, fairs and a Lenin lighting. The city tends our bridge, our streets and, occasionally, steps in to resolve otherwise irresolvable concerns.
Fremont could only exist in the City of Seattle, with its easy acceptance of our unconventional and unorthodox attitudes. Seattle’s location, in the far west and out of the limelight lends us an ability to get away with a whole lot before having to explain ourselves.
The geography here, in the well of several hills, focuses our energy. A brown, flat horizon might lend neighbors an excuse to stomp off, while the ship canal limits how far we can escape and forces us to work together.
I came to accept that Fremont would not be Fremont if located anywhere else.
I will not accept the weather.
The only thing cold weather brings is an end to fun. More parades, more fairs and more outdoor movies could happen in a temperature turned friendly to outdoor activities.
So, I’ll never see Fremont, Arizona, and I probably won’t bust.
Instead I’ll focus my energy on arguing my latest brainstorm: this whole tilting of the northern hemisphere away from the sun is highly overrated. I’m thinking we stop the earth’s rotation sometime in mid-July on a bright, sunny 72-degree day…
Hey, I’ve heard crazier. I live in Fremont after all.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.