I love mornings in the Pacific Northwest. There’s something about the chilliness in the air, even in July or August, and the crisp, clean smell of evergreens mixed with salt water that just infuses my soul with thankfulness. After two years here, I still find myself borrowing a few moments just to take it all in, observe the scene before me, and send up a prayer of gratitude.
Each new day here reminds me why I love this place so much. I have to do weird things here, things I never anticipated when I lived back east, like check the tide tables so that I know which foot ferry I want to use. When the tide is out, the ferry dock a quarter mile from my home has such a steep gangplank that is like climbing up and down a ladder to get to the float and on the boat. It’s not fun, especially since I’m in a medical walking boot right now due to tearing the fascia tendon in the bottom of my foot, so I’ll choose to use the ferry 1.5 miles away in town as it’s in a marina and doesn’t require feats of strength to get on the boat.
Who could anticipate a Midwestern woman worrying about tides?
I do, though, and I love it. Tides are a daily part of my considerations. I’ve learned so much about tides, too. Winter tides are so different from summer ones – much shallower. Summer tides, when fully out, leave amazing tidal flats covered in seaweed and crowded with seagulls, ducks, and gorgeous cranes.
This morning, I took an early foot ferry across Sinclair Inlet to Bremerton so that I could grab some Starbucks before getting on the Seattle ferry. We’ve had a few (comparatively speaking) hot days, but this morning was chillier than normal, only about 55 degrees or so, and the whole area is socked in with thick fog. It felt like fall, which has always been my favorite season, but takes me to a new stratosphere of happiness when it’s fall out here in the PNW.
Bremerton in the early mornings is a loud place, not due to the Navy Shipyard or the buses or the people, but because of the seagulls. They yell and screech and swoop and soar and it makes my heart happy. After I got my venti cold brew, I took a seat and watched the seagulls at the ferry dock, which, in turn, watched me back. They may be obnoxious, opportunistic birds, but I love them. They are a glaring, loud reminder of where I am at any given moment. If there is an object that can remind me in an instant to be thankful for the life I have, it’s the seagull. I associate them with my first trip out here so, for me, they’re special.
Once I got in line for the ferry, I stared down into the water below. I’m used to seeing tiny jellyfish about the size of quarters or half-dollars, but I’ve seen a few really big ones lately, and the one this morning was bigger than a dinner plate. Again, I was hit with a moment of awe.
Every single time I see a jellyfish or a cute seal in the water, I say thank you to Yah (Hebrew for God) for bringing me here to this place and at this time.
I mean, I live in a place where I depend on sailing schedules, for goodness sakes! How lucky am I?
I haven’t always been happy or comfortable where I lived. I was born in Indiana and lived within 100 miles of my hometown for the first 35 years of my life, but I never once felt like I “fit” there. As an adolescent, I dreamed of going to the big city because, in my mind, life was just better there. A heavyset girl like me might be more accepted there, I thought, and so I clung to the hope that city life would be better. I was right, in a lot of ways. Although the “big”city I first moved to wasn’t New York, as I’d hoped, but Louisville, I found a level of acceptance there that I’d never felt in my hometown. (In hindsight, I realize that a lot of what I felt was self-loathing.) Still, even in Louisville, I was bitten by wanderlust and dreamed of something else, somewhere else. In my mind, there was a better life awaiting me if only I could find it.
My wanderlust plagued me throughout my 20s and early 30s, through my marriage and the establishment of our life as a couple. I just knew, deep inside that I didn’t belong where I was, regardless of what my address was at the time.
It was my first trip to Seattle that changed things. Just an hour in the vibrant city, with its unique smells and gorgeous views and wonky, wonderful weather, and I knew. I knew that this was home. I snatched up every opportunity to come out here to train, and I’ll never forget my last trip to the airport in 2013 to head back to Indiana because I cried halfway there. I knew it was my final trip for the year and I wasn’t sure I’d get to come back because my training was done. My heart ached at the thought of not coming back. Just a year after that, we moved here when the opportunity to transfer presented itself, and I’ve never looked back.
My life is far from perfect. I’m blessed with a generous salary – another thing I thank Yah for – and a wonderful home, but we still struggle with finances as my husband gets his real estate business going. Family life is always a struggle due to my differences with those back east, and my beloved Fiat 500 was rear ended last week. I wonder if my health is going to ever get better, and if I’ll ever live without pain.
All that being said, I am so thankful. The wanderlust I’ve felt my entire life, the need to be anywhere else but where I was, is gone. It’s now the opposite that I feel – I can’t put roots down fast enough or deep enough. Home is right here.
The ferry is about to arrive in Seattle, meaning my workday is about to commence, so I’ll wrap this up. I leave you, dear readers, with this view, which was taken on the sailing home last week. It’s of one of the ferries like I’m on now with Mt. Rainier in the distance.
Home, I tell you. Home.