I'm finally getting around to collecting my thoughts about visiting Seattle last week. It does seem kind of strange to take a vacation to a place that you used to live, but a year is a long time after you pick up your life and move from a place that you were so fond of. I already wrote about the one year anniversary of our move, but I'm sure that some of those thoughts will likely creep back into these thoughts.
Our first reason for the visit was of course to see the people that were central to our life there, starting with my brother-in-law's family. I can't emphasize enough how important it was to have them there, making the whole process of moving, with a pregnant wife, a whole lot easier. Think about all of the wins... you have family there who can tell you where to eat, what roads to take, etc. More importantly, we had family just a couple of years ahead of us in terms of raising children, so the first year in particular had a lot fewer surprises when you could see the future of the process. It was also nice to have an "older brother" down the street, and to have cousins that Simon could see regularly, since he won't have any siblings. We miss having the Snoqualmie Mattoni's in our daily life.
It was also important to see our PEPS circle. I love that the parent group formally disbanded after however many weeks, but it's still as strong a social circle as ever. When Diana put feelers out to get people together, one of the moms stepped up and hosted a party at her house. It's so crazy to see all of Simon's little friends walking around and talking. They're good people, and fun to be around.
For me, there is also the work circle of friends. While the group once known as "Server and Tools Online" has been reorg-ed several times, and people have moved to new teams or left the company entirely, it's still a great group of people that I'm very happy to keep in touch with. It's good to see the friendships last beyond STO.
Mostly by coincidence, we also got to see Garbage play in Seattle. Since they weren't playing anywhere else close to Cleveland, this was a nice bonus. A further coincidence meant we got to meet up with a friend who just moved out there from Cleveland.
Another reason to be there was just to be there. The topography is awesome in ways that most places aren't, where you can stand on a hill and see two different mountain ranges. That never gets old. Right up until we moved, I would have those moments where I said, "Holy shit, I live here." That feeling and that smile you get from being in a place like Hawaii or the Grand Canyon, it's something you get every day there (save for days that are extra rainy or foggy). It's such an amazingly beautiful and green place.
Don't forget the various places we used to hang out. We didn't get to Boxley's in North Bend, but we did hit a few others. And even though going downtown can be a pain at times, it was nice to get down there for an evening (and by the way, the Pyramid Brewhouse across from Safeco Field way exceeded our expectations).
The hardest thing for me was going back to the Microsoft campus. That a year has passed since I was last there was really hard to wrap my head around. As we parked in the giant underground parking garage under the Commons, I had a slight feeling of panic. I suspect I'll always second guess myself for leaving the company. I didn't dislike it, but I also didn't feel like I was getting what I wanted out of it. It's a strange thing to contemplate. I've never been fond of a company the way I liked Microsoft.
People ask me all of the time if I would go back to Microsoft, and I always say that it depends. I wouldn't settle for any job (my options weren't great in 2009, thus the willingness to move), and I wouldn't allow myself to be under-hired (it was in many ways a career step below where I was in previous jobs). And of course, it depends on if they'd actually hire me!
Overall, it was a really fantastic trip, which is weird for going to a place mostly important because you used to live there. The weather was pretty solid, too. We really do miss it.