I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My home town

Having grown up as an Air Force brat, I never really had a home town. I happened to be born in California, and we were stationed there a good bit during my childhood, but we lived in different places so I never had a place I felt I was "from." When someone asked me, I explained about moving around a lot. In the early 1970s when I was ready to plant myself somewhere permanently, I adopted Boulder as my home town. I lived there from 1975 until 2008, more than three decades.

When Smart Guy and I looked ahead to retirement, it wasn't easy to decide where to live. I knew I had to leave Boulder behind, because it tied me to old ways of being, and ever since I met him, when he was living in San Francisco (which he loved), I wanted to head with him back to the west coast after I retired from my workplace. Back in February, I wrote here about how we ended up in Bellingham.

Today I'm looking at what it's been like, more than two years later, living here. First of all, I've carved out a new life that is full to the brim. It contains everything I ever thought I wanted, but part of that is because I'm not the same person I was in Boulder. I am now a Washingtonian, and I'm different now. We are shaped by our environment in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

I need a social group to be happy, and the almost-daily classes at the Y have provided one aspect of that need, while the Thursday hikes with the Senior Trailblazers have provided another. The skydiving aspect is provided by the Drop Zone in Snohomish, and when we show up there, we are welcomed by our peers. I like the fact that skydiving is seasonal here, because it gives me a time to let it fade into the background, while in Boulder I was at the Drop Zone every weekend that the weather allowed, year round.

Because of my Trailblazer group, I learn about Washington's incredible natural beauty that I never would have discovered on my own. During our day-long interactions, I also have learned things about my new home town and environs that I would have missed. Dan told me about the Skytrain in Vancouver and how to use it; two of the women, Linda and Peggy, invited me to join their Saturday morning walking group and I've met new people there. I would have been there yesterday but I was in Snohomish jumping out of airplanes.

Riding the bus has also broadened my social group. Many of the bus drivers know me and greet me by name, or wave to me if they see me walking on the street. It's a good feeling to belong here now. When I ride the bus to the Y, I see the same people get on and I know their routines and miss them if they are not there. We chat sometimes, and I know some of their names and have even joined a Facebook page or two. When I walk into the coffee shop where I quaff my daily latte before class, I've become a "regular" and know the other regulars by name. We also visit and chat. One guy, Gene, and his parrot have become my friends. He's a fisherman who brings me some of the best sockeye salmon I've ever tasted. This picture shows Smart Guy, Gene, and me at the Farmers' Market in the springtime. Notice that he's obviously a native, we are bundled up and he's in shirtsleeves.
One person, Judy, who I met in class at the Y has become a good friend, and we go to movies and out to dinner together. We are the same age and I enjoy her grandchildren, as I also enjoy hearing about and visiting the children and grandchildren of my blogging buddies. The blogosphere and my two blogs fills the need to keep my mind active.

Writing all this down makes me realize why I am so content to be a Washingtonian. It's not often that we experience the kind of heat that has kept the rest of the country sweltering, although we do get some hot weather. Yesterday the high temperature broke another record. The previous high for the date was 84; yesterday it got to 88. I know this doesn't sound very hot for those of you stuck inside with much higher heat and humidity, but that's not normal for the Pacific Northwest, especially here on the coast. Just a few miles inland and it's much hotter.

And there's you, my faithful readers. You join me and I look forward to your comments. I follow your lives on your blogs and suffer with you when you have trials, and rejoice with you when you are happy. Thank you for joining me in my other home town, Blogaritaville.


Jo said...

My goodness, you have a full, busy life...! Holy doodle...!

For some strange reason, I tend to be more of a solitary person, and enjoy my own company. I work in a noisy, busy office and I love the sanctuary of my tree house.

I am amazed at your love of sky diving. How did you get started? It's just incredible...!

Anonymous said...

I get such a great kick out of your 2 blogs, Jan! Keep it up.

You are indeed lucky to have so many friends in Washington. But, the best thing is that you have the daily company of your retired husband! Lucky you!

CiCi said...

You and I have our beginnings in common, moving so much and not having a "home" we were from.
I know how comforting it is for you to fit in and enjoy your life in Bellingham. I just finished a novel by Michael Collins titled Lost Souls. Michael Collins was born and raised in Ireland and he attended college in the US and now resides with his wife and kids guess where: Bellingham WA.
You are usually one step ahead of me so you probably already know that. Ha.

Whitney Lee said...

I was thinking about roots the other day. There are some people who sink roots into a place, build a foundation and thrive. There are others who seem to build their foundation on other people or things, and the place is less important. It seems this is more where you fit in. You've sunk your roots into nature and into skydiving (and also, it seems, into Smart Guy). I think this makes it easier to move because you can always build a home wherever you may find these things. Now it sounds as though you are beginning to sink your roots into a new place, as well. If Boulder was your home town, then it looks like Bellingham is your future. It sounds lovely.

Linda Myers said...

I was a military brat, too. When I was 49 I moved into my 49th house, where I still reside. Smart Guy at my house is called Old Goat.

I'm hoping my life looks something like yours a couple of years from now. When I first left the workplace I was travelstarved, but the downside of those trips is not enough time at home to make a commitment to local activities. I learn, eventually.

Sometime when you're planning a skydiving outing, let us know and we'll meet you in Snohomish for a latte.

Gigi said...

Sounds as if you have a full and wonderful life! I, too, love Blogaritaville - I've met some wonderful people (such as you) and it's great that we can connect via the ethernet.

Donna B. said...

I really enjoyed your post.

I don't remember if I mentioned to you, but I lived in Bremerton, WA for five years from age 5 to age 10. What a wonderful childhood I had!

I lived in Aspen, Colorado for almost a year when I was young and stupid and went there for a man I was dating.

I lived in Tucson, Arizona, also for the love of a man.

I was born in Pasadena, CA and always seem to end back there after moving elsewhere.

My husband and I have lived in Henderson, NV for almost four years.

The question I have for Blogaritaville, is what does one do when one's husband is not as active as the wife wishes to be? Does she strike out on her own for those activities and leave him behind? Or continue a sedentary life?

I have made some friends here, taken some classes, we have a state of the art gym at our senior community, so I "could" get exercise there...but I prefer dancing...heres hoping the husband will "get with the program" after he retires...

The Retired One said...

I love it=Bloggeritaville!! hahaa It is also so fun to see the pictures from places all over the world that our blogger friends call home...yours included! So glad I met you through this wonderful shared experience of blogging.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Blogaritaville..great new word..reminds me of my favorite drink!
I live just two miles from where I was born and raised..it is a comfortable feeling..but I have lived elsewhere and was perfectly happy, Denver CO and Tampa FL and even in North Dakota..it is all about doing your best where ever you hang your hat. You are very lucky to live in such a beautiful area and able to do all the things that you enjoy! :)

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

You really found a wonderful home, and wasted no time taking advantage of what it offers! I'm much more solitary than you, but I recognize the value of having people recognize and greet you, as well as people who get to know you as a person. Long ago I read that people who continue to make new friends live longer and happier lives. You are destined for great longevity, I wager.

Mel said...

Your life and the zest with which you live it are enviable. Thank you for sharing it, and inspiring me to do more, especially to feed my social nature. There are plenty of amazing people just waiting to be met, aren't there?
Also, thank you for naming this Blogaritaville. Love it.

Murr Brewster said...

Well Lord knows I love to hike, but if I ever entered the Drop Zone they'd have to rename it the Droppings Zone. I did appreciate that you enjoy that it's seasonal. I believe much of my happiness is due to most everything being seasonal. We can't look forward to what is mundane, and it's not just tomatoes. I garden greedily, but I want it all starkly dead in the winter when I can pull that grey flannel sky over me and create.

Donna B. said...

DJan, would you please stop by my other blog, Mystical Journeys (www.digifreed.blogspot.com) as I have something for you...

gayle said...

I so wish I had your energy!!!! Do you do all this everyday, once a week ....just how do you fit it all in?

Rosaria Williams said...

I came in from Nancy's blog, glad to be here and to learn about your exciting, full life.

CrazyCris said...

I've been doing some catching up with your blogs these past two days (still have so many others to go through! vacations and travelling are bad for reading blogs).
That "home town" aspect is one thing that has always bugged me the most growing up. You're a military brat, I'm a foreign service brat. When people ask me where I'm from I don't know how to answer. How do you define where you're from? Where you were born (1 country)? Where you grew up (4 countries)? Where your parents are from (2 countries)? Facebook has added "current location" and "hometown" to our profiles, and even though for me "home" has always been where my parents are, I can't bring myself to mark Alicante as my hometown... (even though they've been based here for 13 years, and I've lived here off and on for the past 15). It's just my current location. In a few weeks I'm off to Belgium, back several months later... and then, who knows?
Home is where your heart is. One of the truest statements I've ever heard. And it's so hard to make a new home each time we move, it just gets harder and harder. So bravo to you for having succeeded so well in Washington! I'm envious!
Just like I'm sometimes envious of my friends here who have "childhood friends" they grew up with, or close cousins... I wish! But then my life has been full of adventure and travels and exotic locations. I guess we can't have it all, can we?