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Fierce in Seattle: The Seattle Freeze


A blogumn by Kelli Bielema

I moved to Seattle in September of 2006. I was asked why I would move at the end of the summer when that time of year was the best to experience the city. Eh, logistics.  I was also told it was hard to meet friends here and would encounter something known as “The Seattle Freeze.”  This had nothing to do with the weather, but rather the chilly attitude and “freezing out” that people do in not only the winter months, but often year-round. Well, doesn’t that make you want to run to the church social and start a conversation?  While I knew exactly 2 people when I moved up here, I wasn’t about to latch on to all their friends. Clearly, I would need to meet some co-workers.  That first job garnered one friendship, but I haven’t seen her in over a year.

my pal lisa (not a chris) and me

my pal lisa (not a chris) and me

What happens with the Freeze is that you meet someone, for the sake of this story, let’s say at work.  This person, let’s call him/her Chris to keep it ambiguous, is charming, very friendly and courteous. Chris is someone who probably knows people since he/she is a native Seattleite.   You run into Chris at the market today.

Chris:  Well, hello, what a surprise!
You:  Oh, hi Chris. What’s happening?
Chris: Oh, just getting some organic produce for my juicing. What are you up to? How are you liking Seattle?
You: Oh, it’s great. A little difficult to meet people, though.
Chris: Yeah, I hear it can be rough.
You:  Maybe we could grab a drink or catch a movie sometime.
Chris: That would be fun, I’d be up for that anytime!
You: Super!

And scene.

Of course, you would surmise that a little email to Chris would be all it would take and you two could have your little outing, planting the seed for a beautiful new friendship that would blossom into lifelong memories.  Not so fast, transplant.  You’re likely to email Chris, and it will take a few months before he/she finally commits to a couple of hours with you at  a coffee bar.  It doesn’t matter that the two of you live 10 minutes from another.  It doesn’t matter that Chris’s office is 3 blocks from yours.  And it’s not that Chris thinks you are an idiot. Chris is simply socially negligent.  He/she has friends already. Why feel obligated to be one of yours?  It gets cold in the winter, and Chris’s comfort cocoon is calling.  See you in May…perhaps.

I have met a few Chris-types. And I call them friends. Friends I don’t hang out with, but friends nonetheless.  If any of my Chrises need a ride to the airport, I would oblige. A ride from the airport is another conundrum.  And I’m happy to say I have met a fabulous group of people here and we get together regularly.  We’re all transplants who bitch about the Freeze, so it naturally makes sense that we are part of the defrosting. 

PS—There’s a Facebook page that I’ve joined called The Seattle Anti-Freeze that is a social events group that challenges the whole concept of the passive-aggressiveness here.  Although I should mention, I have yet to attend an event.  Look at me…fitting right in….