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Image: Brandon Hill

If you get lucky, you see the city your first time the way it looks on this month’s cover. Check it out: Seattle from above, looking north. Scrolled before you, the jagged skyline tightly hugs Elliott Bay—the perfect vantage point for witnessing the city’s rapid growth, for gleaning, thanks to the density, the temperature of the real estate market (somewhere between hot and boiling). 

As Seattle Met art director Jane Sherman recently pointed out to me, that’s the view many new Seattleites first enjoy, new Seattleites like the immigrants profiled in this issue (and pictured above).

Admittedly, I do not know from which direction those in our story first dropped in—some a few weeks ago, some decades earlier—but I do know that if you listen to the White House these men and women are too dangerous to be here, since each hails from one of the Muslim countries on the presidential executive order restricting travel. That’s a preposterous notion, one I hope will be made even more clearly preposterous after reading the story.

Still, I like to imagine what it’s like that first time: Your first city in a new country, your new home. A scratch comes over the intercom. The plane lowers and you feel the gravitational pull. Out the window spreads a mind-boggling grid of buildings, thousands of right angles bracketing little rectangles of possibility. You think of the lives lived down there. You think of the life you yourself are about to live. 

In the middle of the city, between two cerulean bodies of water, you recognize an edifice you’ve studied in photos. But seeing it in real life and from up here, you decide, is different. From up here you marvel anew at how the thin white spire improbably balances the saucer on top. If that, then what else is attainable?

Another tug of gravity. The airplane is coming in hot, about to bank before it circles around and glides into Sea-Tac. Heat from the engines warps the view out the window just slightly, and the city warbles below, in and out of focus as in a dream.

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