The Chinese have a saying: "One move is like two house fires." It's very disorienting to be in a new place, even if you moved within the U.S. and can therefore depend on the cultural differences between your previous burg and Seattle to be, relatively speaking, minimal. I've lived in the Northwest for nearly six years and Seattle for almost three, and I'm still doing double-takes over little things, such as proper nouns.
For example, there's University of Washington, and then there's Washington University, a private, more elite university than UW, located in St. Louis. It's "U Dub" vs. "Wash U," but disorienting to a newcomer's ear just the same.
To stay with the collegiate theme for a moment: To Seattleites, the acronym "SLU" is pretty straightforward. "SLU" can only mean "South Lake Union," an acronym that, if not in play previously, has been immortalized by the South Lake Union Trolley — SLUT, for those of you who just moved here — or what puritanically minded city officials prefer to call the streetcar. But to my ears, SLU is first, foremost, and forever St. Louis University, my undergrad alma mater, otherwise known as the lesser Wash U. SLU in this context is pronounced like the past tense for slay: "slew." SLU is the oldest university west of the Mississippi. Sorry, South Lake Unionites: We Billikens have first dibs on the acronym.
Then there are street names. Pine and Spring here are not where they are supposed to be. Martin Luther King is the only bright spot, as it seems that every African American neighborhood in every city in the U.S. has one. Don't even talk to me about the numbered streets. In Miami, I lived a few blocks from where one 72nd and another 72nd intersected.
Not even sports teams are safe. Every time someone mentions the Storm, I think soccer, as in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) team that tried in 1989 to fill a void left by the St. Louis Steamers. I went to every home game that inaugural year. MISL became simply MSL, and then promptly folded, as did the Storm, which was replaced by the Ambush in 1992, which is no more. Just like the trolley has returned to Seattle streets, both MISL and the Steamers are back, the latter without its endearing steamboat logo. Too old-school, I guess.
I've swung from Steamers to Sounders soccer, and I studder over the alliterative similarities between St. Louis, Seattle, St. Louisans, and Seattleites. But I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
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