When I first moved to Tacoma in 2014, my boss made fun of how I was going to live in “Tacompton.”
Originally hailing from Chicago, I wasn’t going to be intimidated by what was considered to be a “scary city” by Pacific Northwest standards. Sure, it didn’t have a plethora of major league sport teams, or tourist destinations (that I was aware of the time), or that lovely new aesthetic that Seattle had, but that doesn’t mean it was scary.
Coming out to Tacoma lead me to find out that there were normal people who lived in this region.
I could be bumped into and hear the words “sorry” or “oops” versus a pointed towards the sidewalk and quick bustle to the next part of the day. In my first apartment the neighbors talked to each other and even would watch each other’s dogs or kids. It felt strangely familiar like another city I once lived in by a huge body of water.
After a year or so we had our first visitors from Seattle stop down. After promising they would not be the victims of violent crime, we took a walk around Wright Park while shooting the shit about how our life changed since I parted ways with Seattle and my job at one of the national mega-banks.
“This is pretty nice here, not bad for Tacoma.”
While this was meant to be a compliment and at the time as someone new to the city, it was, it lined up a bigger overlying issue. Tacoma was still being compared to Seattle.
I know I was doing it at first as well. I knew I could still have Seattle fun and go home to Tacoma. Basically I was having Seattle at an affordable rental price. But now that I’ve been here for a period of time, I can see what so many locals and native Tacomans hated.
Tacoma is not Seattle. It’s not Seattle’s suburb. Tacoma is just simply Tacoma.
That doesn’t mean you have to hate Seattle to appreciate Tacoma, you just have to accept that Tacoma is doing it’s own thing. It has it’s own sense of fashion, it’s own culture, hell it even has it’s own baseball team. The lives of it’s citizens do not rely on Seattle to dictate the topics of the day. There is enough going for us to talk about Tacoma. We all are wondering what are they going to do with the Hilltop Rite Aid? When are they going to finish the Elks Lodge? Why was Jensen still on the ballot when he withdrew from the race and had his political career destroyed?
Every day I hear something about this city it feels great, like I’m part of some small club of people in this semi-exclusive circle. We have our stuff going on that no one cares about outside of the city, and you know what, I’m ok with that.