I’m writing from London, the most world class of world-class cities, where 300-year-old buildings dripping in ornamentation are as ordinary as Starbucks storefronts. I’m here for work and I’m seeing the city in the best possible way with the best possible guides.
My coworkers and friends have dragged me to their favorite Soho pubs, bookstores and cigar bars. I’d like this column to serve as a bit of a thank-you note to them. I’ve never felt in better hands.
My favorite spots here are the locals-only spots where, in the middle of this city of eight million, familiar faces bustle through doorways and share hugs and pints. But these spots are highlights for me because they remind me of home — of Tacoma.
I imagine exchanging the favor — of showing these people my own hometown and my own favorite hangouts. I imagine them seeing the same soul-level value of unexpected friends walking in, because, in Tacoma, that’s what happens.
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In other words, while in London, I miss home. I’m thankful to come from a city worth missing.
I’m thankful for my specific home within my hometown — my house — full of three of my four beloved children, where my beautiful Tacoma wife displays all her grounded Tacomaness.
I’m thankful for my neighborhood. It’s nice enough to feel secure and welcoming, but not so fancy-schmancy that I feel pressured to manicure the edges of my lawn.
I’m thankful for The Red Hot, The Spar, Ice Cream Social, Bluebeard, Shakabrah, The Parkway, En Rama, Shake Shake Shake, MSM, Frisko Freeze and dozens of other hangouts I want to drag out-of-town guests to in order to show off Tacoma’s Tacomaness.
I’m confident even Londoners would agree that Tacoma has better coffee and better beer lists. I imagine them swooning at Chris’ list at TRH, while they’re eating a house-made hot dog covered with peanut butter and bacon.
From London, from this city of landmarks, I’m aware just how beautiful a world capital city can be. It makes me realize that in Tacoma, we should hold every old building closely in our fists and never let them go.
It makes me thankful for our own landmarks: Stadium High School, Old City Hall, Union Station, the Northern Pacific Building, and all of the University of Washington Tacoma campus.
London also makes me realize that I wouldn’t trade all the Buckingham Palaces and Tower Bridges for our views of Commencement Bay and Mount Rainier.
I’m thankful for the way the sun sets behind the Olympic Mountains, for the way our gray skies reflect off the waves that churn north along The Narrows, and for clouds that catch their bellies on Rainier’s jagged peak.
London is full of gardens. Amazing spots. Kensington Roof Gardens, Royal Botanical Gardens, and a place called Covent Garden where I didn’t see any plants. The ones with plants have spectacular specimens from around the world — vegetative evidence of the reach of the British Empire.
But Tacoma has Point Defiance, where the Doug firs tower out of sight, where owls hoot into the fog, where deer surprise my dog while we walk along a muddy trail. Nothing in London can compete with that.
I’m thankful for our bracken ferns, for our western red cedars, for the salal, Oregon grape and the jewel tones of our vine maples.
There are soulful people in London. My London co-workers are proof of that. But after a day at work, it’s the souls of Tacoma that I long for.
It doesn’t matter if I’m on a street, in a booth or on my couch at home. The shoulders I most want to lean on are there, in my city.
Tacoma, this year, like every year, I’m thankful for you.
Tom Llewellyn of Tacoma is a content marketing director and children’s novelist. He is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org