AS THE BREATH OF SPRING slowly rolls over Puget Sound, a sweet, heady fragrance unfurls from budding deciduous leaves and carries on the wind. The smell washes over the Seattle area’s familiar piney scent, and never fails to make me feel nostalgic; an olfactory reminder of the humming anticipation I felt throughout my childhood in those months just before summer.
Standing on the platform outside Seatac International Airport, waiting for my ride, there it was again. Despite the chill in the air, I could sense the seasonal shift. I drank it in, mulling it over and trying to swallow the fact that this would be the last time I would step through the arrivals gate in my hometown for who-knows-how-many years.
On the surface that was a reality I was entirely prepared for, even happy about. After all, I’d been hoping to land a job in Seoul in my field for nearly a year, all the while dreamily sifting through pictures of South Korea on flickr and reminiscing about the months I traveled and studied in the country. But I also wondered how I would feel as I passed the streets where I spent my youth, stealing a few last glimpses of the Northwest, this upper-left corner I’ve come to love so much.