Tacoma, Washington is our home. Noah has spent his entire life in this city and it was the fishing net that caught my family when we left Hawaii. Tacoma also serves as the backdrop to our love story, retains all the memories we shared with our Beagle Ninja and houses the majority of our loved ones. We’ve got a history here.
We’re 4 days away from seeing a brand new city and in the coming year we’ll be visiting lots of places and giving you our opinions, but the thought just occurred to me… why not start at home first? I’m proud to say I’m an American, I’m proud to say I’m from Tacoma. I will never lie about either of these facts as we see other countries and meet people who are equally as proud of their home and want to share it with us.
That’s not to say that as a country we don’t have a lot of problems, but they’re just that, OUR problems and together we have to own them instead of finger pointing (omg, can’t we all agree that we’re tired of this?!). We’ve somehow built a culture of labels, subcultures and special interests WITHIN the special interests and there is large “It’s not me” wall that’s been built up over time, so let’s keep it real and start to un-brick that beast. We’re all bound by the red, white and blue and if we can all just agree that we’re in this shit together then can’t we use that as our foundation and build up from there?
How to fix America. A simplified tutorial by Lynn Camp
Ok, I know I’m oversimplifying but let’s not lose sight of who we are or ever feel ashamed to say we’re Americans even if it’s not necessarily going in your perceived direction at the time. There is a really dumb silly sign I’d always see in gift shops and its never struck a chord with me until now:
Coming to a Grandma’s house near you!
So, in the interest of my home country, I’ll start by taking responsibility and do my very best to listen and leave my ego at the door. I openly admit to not having all the answers and humble myself to those that bring about possible solutions, but I will also not be bullied into thinking there is only one way, and it is the right way. I am Lynn Camp, American and this is my home, this is my mess. I am Spartacus, and I also broke the Dam.
How I feel about America is much the same way I feel about Tacoma. I’m not going to sugar-coat it and say that it’s not without it’s issues (looking at you downtown construction that lasts forever and is affecting long-standing businesses). She’s far from perfect, but she is mine and like a socially unaware party guest, she won’t shut up about the importance of buying local and talks way too close for comfort with the Tacoma aroma on her breath. I can’t help but look across the room, shake my head then smile and discreetly slip her an Altoid. Here are a few things that made up our life in the “City of Destiny” and why you should drive the extra 40 minutes south when you’re visiting Seattle to experience it yourself:
Tacoma boasts a few titles over the years. It’s been named the most livable, walkable, sexually healthy, stressed out, gayest city in America. Intrigued? Read on!
Me and Noah lived less than one minute from MSM Deli. If you live in Tacoma then you know how serious this is and the sacrifices we’re truly making. Forget everything you know about sandwiches, grab a Mike’s Deluxe and become a fan for life. Big thanks to this family that’s been in our community for so long. Long live MSM!
For something a little more classy, head to Marrow on 6th Ave. Consistently incredible food where I can never pronounce what I ingested, I just know I wanted more of it.
Herman’s Burger’s serves up a great burger that won’t sit in your gut like a bowling ball. It’s also right next to GameStop which was a ritual for me and Noah back in our gaming days to eat at Herman’s and then spend all our money on new games.
So many birthday’s, dates and just because occasions here! Sakura Japanese Steak House isn’t much to look at but like all our hole in the wall picks it’s not what it looks like, it’s all about quality. I won’t lie, I’m hoping the owners see this and give me and Noah the Imperials (Steak, Chicken, Lobster) for life. If they don’t it’s still super yummy and fun to have fire and knives inches from my face as I eat. Go there and tell them Lynn & Noah sent you!
Since we don’t eat out much because we were saving to pursue this adventure, our list is short but these are the places we made exceptions for during our saving years. Tacoma is home to lots of amazing places to eat but we wanted to give our love to these places in particular for making us stray from our goal.
Art is a BIG deal in Tacoma. Art is placed above business and because of that we’ve made a funky little community of dreamers, musicians and all types of creatives. The buildings are empty, but damn if there’s not something cool to look at on the side of the building! Plus, as the hometown of Dale Chihuly we blow lots of glass. Also, you can’t miss the glass museum, I mean that literally, it’s that big, metal upside-down ice cream cone in the middle of the city! What I’m trying to convey is that there is art everywhere and it’s fully supported as evident in the legal graffiti wall of the Graffiti Garages. We’re also breeding the next wave of struggling artists with SOTA (School of the Arts). This may sound like I’m bashing this but I’m fully supportive and hope everyone finds their creative niche, as I’m on the hunt for mine as well!
Beer, beer, coffee, beer. Noah and I don’t drink either but there is no dismissing the rise in brew culture the last few years. For most of the year, it’s raining and grey so being inside is a necessity and we were excited to see how the love for a good liquid has brought lots of people together. It’s also great to see all the cool spaces that have sprung up where people can chill out and eat good, cheap food. Ah, the simple things.
You can get anything in Tacoma. Yes, anything. I know that holds true for just about every city but the first person you’ll ask will lead you straight to the item. Drugs, sex… *yawn* Yeah, you’d assume I meant those things but with Tacoma, you ask someone where to get a weave, a ColecoVision, A Brazilian parrot and a Quinceanera dress for your niece? That’s a one stop shop baby. Here in Tacoma we have entire malls, swap meets and squares that are dedicated to serve all your bizarre, outdated and quirky wants and these are a blast to go to if you truly want to know what dimensional time travel is like. I tease because I love, but these places are truly unique and could really use your business. In my travels, I’ll let you know if I find another place in the world like the B&I, The Starlite Swap Meet, or Freighthouse Square but I’m willing to bet right now that they’re like unicorns.
There is Safeway, and then there is Ghetto Safeway. Everyone knows where this is (on M. Street) and if you don’t like making new friends by way of being followed to your car and guilted into paying for sex behind the donut shop across the street then you’re missing out on the shopping experience of your life. So many Tacoma people have told me to be careful in Mexico, but no one bats an eye when they know I go shopping here and step on used syringes each time. OK, whatever you say Mr. Safety!
Tacoma is super diverse. I know that’s now used as a PC buzzword and it’s become synonymous with “we’ve got non-white people!” when used on a company website or school brochure but I mean diverse as far as hobbies and personalities. There are so many memorable character’s here that even when you don’t know someone’s name, you describe them to a friend and they know exactly who you’re talking about. Tacoma is a small-town, big city. It’s an international dish served with ketchup. The people here are kind and curious and there is absolutely no signs of presumptuousness. Places like the Proctor district try to get snooty sometimes, but we give them noogies and we all laugh and hit the Taco truck on 6th Ave. I love Tacoma because it’s the people who make it work. Every year we all head down to the waterfront on the 4th of July and when the clock strikes 10:10pm we’re all sitting on someone’s lawn, sharing our blankets, music and stories as we look up towards the sky. Forged under the gunpowder of our violent past, we’re now a Tacoma united under the gunpowder of our annual fireworks display.
I’m going to miss our walks. Remember that “most walkable city” award I mentioned in the beginning? It’s true, we’re so close to shops but since my purse strings are miser tight, I mostly appreciate how close we are to parks and how cool all the different neighborhoods are. With so many within walking range, I’ll miss Fort Steilacoom Park the most. Amazing trails that me and my little family of 3 walked on every single weekend or if it was the summer, every single night. I will never forget that all our talks about our future, fights and passions were discussed on “our trail”. So much history there inspired by the beauty of that season.
Chamber’s Bay is another walking path that I will miss. It’s so important for Noah and I to unplug and the beauty of this place has been paramount in helping us clear our minds and see what was really important to us.
Tacoma is a port town so we’re lucky to have a waterfront. A perfect walk can be had on the Ruston Way Waterfront, mind the seagull poop.
Oh, and if you like mountains then boy are you in luck! Tacoma is only 30 minutes from Mount Rainier National Park. Take THAT Seattle!
Tacoma is a great place to be and even though we’re scratching the itch to see something new, we’ll always carry a little bit of T-town with us. I hope you got little taste of our home and next time you’re in town, the Mike’s Deluxe from MSM is on us.
For more pictures of Tacoma and the Pacific Northwest, check out some of my photos here
More Tacoma Love (for your eyes and ears!):