travel

Bellevue: A Place to Work

Bellevue highriseOn our exploration of the Pacific Northwest, (love to tell you about those discoveries another time), to Oregon beaches, Portland and Seattle, I find myself boxed into the town of Bellevue, oddly cited as the 4th best city in which to live. Iím on the ground, here, and cannot see it, unless of course, living means in close proximity to Red Robin, P.F. Chang, Starbucks, Chipotle, and well, you name them. This is Newtown, USA, where tall buildings named Microsoft, Expedia and what seems like the countryís largest Whole Foods tower over lesser buildings in stature and finance. People are rarely seen on the street between 9 and 4:30 and 7 through to next morningís commute. I know they like dogs here because there are several grooming salons, and two PetSmarts. Rarely, youíll see a dog getting walked. Bellevue is the new steel and factory town, where the workers work! Seems like all day and all night, until the weekends of course. Then they go out of townÖ.

I know, because my husband and I are playing this game. Here on business with Microsoft, the tallest building, just over there, my husband leaves at 8 and comes home at 7; we are on the street after dinner, thatís how I know no one else is. I Googled Bellevue, and sure enough, their students rank high in math, (how come no one ranks students on literary mastery?), and the crime is low, very low, so low.

I used to rate a city or town by its taverns, the dark, brown kind, with wood from 100 years ago, old photos, memorabilia, long reaching bar, peppered with more than just lonely drunks, inviting people in from the street for more than a draftóa local conversation. I know better than to do that anymore, anywhere outside of Europe, but I have been able to substitute my litmus test using coffee shops. The ones with dimly lit rooms and worn couches, but not offensively so, blurry coffee signwhere local artists hang their work on cleverly painted patterned walls, college students and students still deciding whether to be college students field the counter and kitchen, literature, pamphlets, wanteds and radical ideas spill over on tables. Iím still in search of this in Bellevue even though I have had people tell me they do not exist. I know they donít. How can they not exist, I ask, and a thrift shop, not EVEN a Goodwill store? I donít believe there is much good will here, let alone a dollar store.

There is art here, protected and housed in a serious art museum but it appears neglected and lonely, looking over public squares where the art of lunch is displayed. I canít feel a pulse in Bellevue, it ticks, Iím told, but its pulseómuch like Dick Cheneyís new heart pump: has no beat.  

Julia Gillern loves to travel in addition to shaping minds for future service to America.

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