Now that I’m residing in the wild and whacky world that is Seattle, I’m surrounded by diversity the likes of which I’ve never experienced before. I’m not just talking about different races and cultures. I’m talking about different lifestyles. On any given day, I can cross paths with a man with bright purple dreadlocks down to his ankles, a woman wearing a witch hat, cross dressers of every stripe, people who will only eat raw vegetables and call you a murderer if you don’t follow their lead, free love activists, and couples who host cuddle parties.
I love this diversity. I revel in it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But I have to be honest. There is a tiny little part of me that feels awkward in these situations. It’s way out of my comfort zone. These are encounters I would never have had in the conservative cultural backwater of ignorance that is Northeast Florida.
I had no idea how sheltered I was until I came to Seattle. Actually, “sheltered” is not the right word. That implies that I was being protected from bad people. It’s more like I was closed off. Shut away. I now totally understand why Florida is such a red state. They don’t know any better. It’s hard to have an open mind when you spend all your time in a tiny little room with no windows, culturally speaking.
Here in Seattle, I seem to be growing up. I’m learning to relax that Florida muscle that instinctively tries to force people into neatly ordered cubby holes. I’m learning to let people be. I have no idea why that should be so hard, but a lot of people have trouble with it.
So, yeah, all this is new to me. And there’s a little squirmy feeling I get inside sometimes because of it. But you know what? Bring it on! I welcome the squirm if it means I get to see the wider world in all its exciting variations.
I feel like I’m seeing the universe in color for the very first time. A little scary. A little unexpected. But oh, how beautiful it is!