Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seattle Freeze: Thawed?

In Seattle, there is an anti-social phenomenon known only as the “Seattle Freeze:” a local public consensus that states the city of Seattle and/or its outlying suburbs are generally not friendly, introverted, clickish or strictly divided through its social classes, thus making the city/area difficult to make social connections on all levels (Urbandictionary.com). There are many theories as to why this exists: from Seattle containing more introverts per capita than any other major city, giving it a more introverted culture, to a sort of mild xenophobia, and even perhaps the dreary cloudy skies may have something to do with darkening the moods of the city’s inhabitants, keeping us indoors and to ourselves. But whatever the case, the Freeze usually looks a little something like this:

You’re talking to a co-worker/someone at a party/fill in the blank. In any other town, this person looks like someone with whom you might be friends. Potential friend asks, “So what are you up to this weekend?”

You answer, “Oh, I don’t have any plans yet. I just moved to Seattle and don’t really know anybody . . .”

Friend-to-be smiles and, for a brief, shining moment you think to yourself: Finally, someone is going to ask me to do something. Invite me to a party. Happy hour. Brunch with the girls. It’ll be just like “Sex and the City.” She’ll be Charlotte; you’ll be Carrie!

You feel a chill coming on. Still smiling, Friend-Not-On-Your-Life politely excuses herself, “Well, have a nice weekend then.” (Taken from an article in the Seattle Times. Find more information here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/pacificnw/2005/0213/cover.html)

Unfortunately, I can attest this is a common scene. I’ve been in Seattle for 3 years now, and have yet to feel the secure bonds of friendship with a born and raised Seattleite. I’ve swapped numbers with a many of them, only to realize they never expected to really hear from me and they certainly never intended to make a call themselves. They’re polite, but nobody really wants to let you in or really develop a relationship.

Well all that’s usually the case. But this weekend, as the sun shined strong and the temperature almost reached 70 I think the Freeze may have thawed a bit. I met some of my neighbors, swapped numbers, and actually got a text the next day! Just to say hello! And on Saturday, I took a walk down to Pike’s and a stranger, eating lunch on the patio, offered me a high-five and invited me to sit down with them for a beer. That afternoon at home, my roommate convinced me to go on a pub crawl for a local Relay for Life group. We ran into some “friends” we had met in the past and had a blast with them while complete strangers chimed in cheers for my song picks and joined in on the singing (But honestly, who can NOT sing along when Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” comes on?) There were still a few let downs: I have a friend, we were friends before I moved out here, and he refused to come hang out (ehhemEvanehhem), but I chalk it up to he must just be busy with other things – no way could his Seattle Freeze have survived the sunshine, happiness, and humor I experienced this weekend. No way. Bring on the Summer!

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