downtown Seattle from the ferry dock at Bainbridge Island, March 31 1999
On March 30 1999, I flew from Toronto to Seattle to start an exciting chapter of my life: an internship at the head office of the company I worked for. It was a big deal for me. Not only was I hopeful about where the internship might take my career, but I had always been envious of my high school friends who bravely went on student exchanges. Here I was, jetting off to a city I'd never been to before, and living with people I had never met.
My company's legal department determined that I didn't need a work visa. Instead, I'd apply for entry under a provision of NAFTA. I had full references and documentation; still, I was nervous clearing U.S. customs at Pearson. Before my car service arrived to take me to the airport, I took an Ativan.
I sailed through effortlessly.
My Air Canada flight to Sea-Tac will likely remain one of the most pleasurable I've ever taken. Relaxed from the Ativan — and helped along with a couple Canadian Club — I looked out the window as the ¼-full A319 chased the setting sun to the west coast.
After arriving, I took a shuttle downtown. I checked in to a hotel for my first two nights (staff rate, of course). The next day, I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and back, taking some pictures along the way.
I explored Pike Place Market and went to the original Starbucks. I met some of the people (friends of friends/ coworkers) I had remotely connected with, and got a preview of the apartment I'd be sharing in First Hill. (I had placed an ad in The Stranger weeks before.) Fortuitously, my new room-mates had been seeking a temporary third occupant for the exact date range I was going to be in Seattle. Meeting them, I instantly felt at home.
I started my internship on the first of April, 1999. It led to a brief-but-unsuccessful stint as a magazine editor the following year, and — after returning to my hotel company with a bruised ego — another temporary placement with the Canadian head office in 2003.
I love Seattle. The friends I made there remain dear to me, even after a decade.
taken from the Washington State ferry, March 31 1999