August 15, 2014 marked 21 years in the Maud building for me. I was 22 when I signed that lease, fresh out of massage school and super tired of being a bike messenger. My brother had asked me if I wanted to fill up some space on the back of the Stranger (where he was one of two ad reps) with a free ad, and I needed a place to practice when people started calling. I remember the first client I had in my new space– a friend of a friend.
It was never my intention to end up in Pioneer Square, but the spaces I was looking at in the Capitol Hill and Belltown areas felt cramped and ugly, and this little room had a tall ceiling, an exposed brick wall, and a lovely big window. I paid $110/month for the tiny room I have been using as my office, enough room for a massage table, a cabinet for my sheets, and that was about it. When I got my Structural Integration certification in 1997, I expanded into the spacious suite I’ve been using ever since.
Pioneer Square has historically been a sketchy neighborhood–like, right from the start– and yet I have never felt unsafe here. I have watched the Square struggle to balance high rent retail with a high percentage of homeless services, suffer the blows of the Nisqually earthquake and the big Recession, endure a reputation of violence and stink, and see it now emerging into the new “Foodie Heaven” advertised on the buses, a place with more people living in it and working in it and more development on the way.
When my landlords told me last month that it was time for them to occupy the whole building, I immediately began looking for my new space. As I walked around Pioneer Square, my gut sat low and sluggish, sad and heavy. The rents were predictably much higher than what I have been paying (a fact I have always appreciated), and the spaces were uninspiring, despite being in beautiful old buildings. I went to check out a new building in SODO and my gut sat up a bit, got lighter, more curious, despite the awkwardness of the location and the smaller size of the room. How strange.
So, I am leaving Pioneer Square. My gut told me to, and we are tight like that. I don’t know what is in store for me, and I doubt that my new space in SODO will be mine for more than a couple of years, but I have a feeling that this move is the beginning of something good, the “next thing”, potentially amazing.
I have one more week here as I write, and I am enjoying the creaking floors, the terrible noise bleed, the comfort and familiarity of it all. I have grown up here, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities that the Maud Building has provided.