As a non-native, out-of-towner that moved to Seattle three years ago, I wasn’t sure how I would be received by the locals because, well I’ve been the ‘new kid’ a few times in my life and I’ve developed a healthy paranoia about it. Having just spent the past decade living in the Deep South, I was ready to begin a new chapter of my life, even if that meant being an outsider again. What I discovered in my first weeks here was that I needn’t have worried.
People here take things as they are, plain and simple. Live and let live is not just a motto, but a way of life. To each their own, so to speak. I wasn’t used to that mentality having just come from the ‘fiddle-dee-dee-you’re-new-here-ain’t-ya-bless-yer-heart’ area of suburban Atlanta. And believe me, I’ve had my heart blessed quite a bit thank-you-very-much. Although the South has a well-earned reputation for hospitality, it can also be a little passive/aggressive. Insults come wrapped with concerned looks and an almost apologetic “Bless Your Heart.” (that’s a whole ‘nother column, to be sure). Which explains my initial nervousness about what to expect here. Like I said before, I needn’t have worried.
My first exposure to the easygoing way of life here in Waterland came unexpectedly on a sunny summer day.
While grocery shopping at QFC (actually it was after grocery shopping) I spied a gal in the parking lot whose glowing hair caught my eye. It was purple. Not like: I-tried-to-dye-it-red-and-came out-burgundy, but PURPLE. Barney the dinosaur PURPLE, and styled somewhere between a beehive and spiky-punk ‘do. At first glance, I just thought that this was a rebellious teen expressing her individuality, and didn’t give it a second glance. Primarily because, I had raised two teens of my own, and am well aware of what they will do for simple shock value. That’s when I gave her a second glance; and realized she wasn’t a teen.
My initial thoughts about her rebellion could not be chalked up to coming-of-age…because she was, well, more going-of-age. A woman of maturity, to be oh so very PC…and what had really taken me by surprise was; apparently, no one noticed. Really, no one.
My prior 10 years spent below the Mason Dixon line had conditioned me to anticipate that someone would have acknowledged this woman. Someone would have taken pity on her, because going out…even to the grocery store…required strict attention to one’s appearance; and being seen at the Piggly Wiggly with purple hair simply wasn’t done.
“Oh my, you poor thing! Let me give you the number of my girl…she’s a miracle worker and can fix you right up.” With a knowing nod, a phone number would have been folded in to her palm, and the well intended Stepford-Belle would have sashayed away.
But not here. Granny’s got her purple on. With her strappy sandals, Capri leggings and Bedazzled shirt she was positively rocking her look; and no one minded it one little bit.
As I loaded the groceries in my car, it occurred to me that I liked it. I liked seeing public displays of purple hair. I liked feeling free and confident again. I liked breathing in the marina air, and savoring the sounds and fragrances of the Farmer’s Market. Headed down Marine View Drive I thought to myself, “You Go Grandma!” followed by, “Welcome home, Joy, welcome home.”