(Originally posted on my old personal blog, Adventures with KHill!)
The title of this blog may or may not be a nod to the Broadway musical version of “Newsies,” now on Netflix! I saw the show on tour a couple of years ago and became obsessed (as I’ve become with just about every musical I’ve ever seen) and now I want everyone to watch it and sing the songs with me. Watching it on a screen probably won’t be as exciting as seeing it live, BUT I am all about everyone having cheaper/easier access to awesome theatre. And while I can’t say that I have a lot in common with singing, dancing newsboys-on-strike at the turn of the 20th century, I’m really feeling their “seize the day” anthem right now.
This summer has brought a lot of difficulty and change. It’s also brought a lot of things to light for my best pal/boyfriend, Stephen, and me, like what is most important to us at this point in our lives. We’ve decided after a lot of thought and with all that has happened over the past few months that we need and want to move closer to our families for a while. It hasn’t been an easy choice for either of us, as we love Seattle and have enjoyed starting to build our lives here, but our hearts and minds are back in Kentucky right now. We’re ready to spend some time with our wonderful friends and families and to heal and move forward surrounded by all of them. We don’t know where exactly we’ll land or what we’ll do (job-wise, life-wise) when we get there, but we feel so lucky to have the freedom to take some time to figure those things out. And Seattle will always be here if we decide it’s the right time to come back someday…but there are also a lot of other places we want to explore or even live. Germany? South America? The MOON? The last one is a joke for now, but if it becomes an option in our lifetime, we all know Stephen will be dragging my reluctant butt onto the nearest space shuttle.
For now, though, we are wrapping up all our business in the Pacific Northwest and having a lot of fun doing so. I am completely in love with this part of the country. I’ve yet to see an ugly part of Washington and I feel like it is vastly underrated by the rest of the U.S., or at least by the southeast. But then, people in the PNW underrate my home state (#kentuckykicksass) and the rest of that region, too. The country is just so big and beautiful and I wish we could all see and appreciate every inch of it!!!
Anyway. My grandparents came to visit this past weekend as the beginning of their big 50th anniversary trip down the west coast, and we had an absolute blast. I got to show them around Seattle and even saw some things that were new to me. This included the Seattle Underground Tour, where I learned that “seamstress” was mid-1800s Seattle code for “prostitute” and city officials even implemented a sewing machine tax on women who practiced the profession to help rebuild the new downtown when the first one burned down. Filing that away in my “fun information to share at parties” folder.
Even more fun and G-rated, though, was our trip to the San Juan Islands. My grandparents really wanted to go whale watching and when we scheduled this whole thing months ago, my feelings about that were along the lines of, “huh, that’ll be neat.” Once we were on the island and got on our boat tour, I quickly evolved into the wide-eyed nerd whisper-yelling, “THIS IS THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE!!!” Orcas are incredible. We were never guaranteed that we would see any, but the guys on our boat were talking to other whale watchers in their network and took us far past the territory they normally travel in to get us to a family of orcas. At first, we were seeing a lot of dorsal fins popping up sporadically and their heads poking up to blow water out of their blowholes (side note - it seems like there should be a more scientific sounding name than “blowhole,” but I’m writing as the wildlife novice that I am). That was cool enough and we were all going to be totally satisfied. They were so majestic and beautiful. Our captain said they seemed to be hunting, so we were going to follow them around for a while. Not long after that, they must have had some kind of success because much like I do when I’ve eaten a good meal, they started celebrating! They were all “breaching” aka jumping up out of the water like Free Willy or Shamu!! But way cooler because it was totally spontaneous and in the wild and not taking place in an obscure 90s movie or a confining theme park with poor quality of life! Giraffes will always be my favorite animal, but orcas really give them some stiff competition now.
We finished that day by going out to the western end of the island to watch a gorgeous sunset. It was such a fun, relaxing trip and I’m so thankful that my grandparents made it happen. They happen to be two of my favorite people on Earth.
As we continue to ~seize the day~ we’ll be taking our sweet time getting back to Kentucky. Stephen and I are in Seattle for another week and a half while we pack up all our stuff and somehow ship it east, then we’re going to start a long and winding road trip across the U.S. and Canada, seeing family, friends, and a lot of national parks along the way. We’re both super excited for it! He is especially excited because in an act that defies all odds, he has convinced me to do most of the journey…camping. Through careful planning and strategic gifts of nice supplies that’ll make my experience more comfortable, he’s gotten me to agree to camp our way across the country in the Prius and our little tent. We’ll primarily be at campgrounds with bathrooms and showers which really helped the sale. It was also helped by my extreme love of national parks (you’re right, Ken Burns, they ARE America’s best idea!) and lack of money to pay for my own hotel rooms or cabins. I really am excited for it, though; two weekends ago, we stayed at a campground in North Cascades National Park and it was so peaceful and fun! Sure, I was up halfway through the night because I was certain that every sound was a bear coming to maul us, but I feel like that paranoia will get better with time (or so she’s told herself about everything she is scared of for the past 23 years, with minimal results). I never thought I’d see the day that I would be doing this. Love changes you, man.
So we have a rough outline of where we’d like to go on our way home, but we don’t have any real dates or plans to be anywhere specific at any given time. Another move that is totally uncharacteristic of Kaitlyn Hill! I have felt surprisingly chill about this whole experience and have not let myself worry much about what happens once we get back. That likely has to do with my therapist’s advice and an increased dosage of anti-anxiety medication. Shoutout to modern medicine.
Oh! Also! It’s my birthday on Sunday! I will be 24 and that is really weird to me. I remember being around 8 or 10 years old and thinking that 24 was full-blown adulthood and that I would probably be gainfully employed, most likely as a successful actress on a popular sitcom, and married with a kid or two. Hilarious for many reasons, one being that I am not even stable enough for a pet right now (though I desperately want a dog, or five), let alone progeny. Young Kaitlyn was a little deluded. But the b-day that used to be my favorite day of the whole year has now kind of snuck up on me and I don’t have any plans, which makes me a little “ :/ “ but maybe that’s just adulthood. I will probably spend the day packing and having a Julie Andrews movie marathon, which is actually closer to my ideal birthday than a normal person would expect.
And lastly, a book recommendation. I’ve been reading so much this summer, but there is one book that has stood out the most and I have to ramble about it a little bit - “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. The book comes from the perspective of a teenage girl named Starr who has grown up across two different “worlds,” living at home in a poor black community and attending a wealthy white private school across town. Everything changes for her one day when she becomes the lone witness to her childhood friend, a black boy from her neighborhood, being shot and killed by a police officer. While Starr and the events of the story are fictional, they are based in the reality of many black Americans, and in particular those victims of police brutality who inspired the Black Lives Matter movement. Every part of this book was touching and eye-opening for me as a white reader. It’s not some “liberal propaganda” or something that attacks police or the justice system; it is exposing readers of all backgrounds to the experiences of many black Americans of which they may not be aware and really humanizing the issues BLM represents by letting you into characters’ thoughts, feelings, and motivations. I’m not sure if that’s the best way I could phrase it, and I certainly don’t pretend to know everything about the experience of being black in America now, but it certainly gave me a thought-provoking glimpse into systems of oppression that don’t play an obvious role in my everyday life. I wish I could personally gift a copy to every person I know who has negative feelings or misconceptions about the Black Lives Matter movement, to everyone who says, “No, all lives matter.” It’s so easy to misunderstand when you come from privilege like I do and like the kids from Starr’s school do and to think that these people you hear about in the news are so different from you. That misunderstanding or ignorance in turn breeds more hate which breeds more violence, and on and on and on. Starr is a funny, smart, relatable teenage girl and as we see the events of her life through her eyes, it’s hard not to feel heartbroken for her and for her real life counterparts. Through Starr, Thomas navigates issues of race, class, and how much we assume and misperceive about those who seem different from us. It’s a brilliant piece of young adult fiction that is very important in the current sociopolitical climate and I could probably go on a lot longer, but I just want you to read it, okay?
Good. I’m going to contribute to the packing now by deconstructing some of our five zillion Lego sets. Thank you, as always, for reading and (for whatever reason) caring about what I’m up to. Much love, lots of appreciation. ❤️