There I was, ensconced for 16 years in my Queen Anne condo - loved it. Two and a half years working for a company in downtown Seattle that paid me pots of money for reasonable work - hated it. Flights of fancy had me living in the San Juans, or perhaps by an obscure little town on the Kitsap Peninsula. I’d had enough of the traffic, the lines, the in-your-face hoards who had taken over my city.
Perusing the Sunday Seattle Times want ads, I was inspired to send a resume over here. Five weeks later I received a phone response, flew over the following Saturday for an interview, and was hired on the spot.
Gosh. Hmmmmmm. OK.
On New Years Day, 1994, my friend Vicki and I pulled into Spokane. She had merely offered to help me move, but rented a place of her own on the South Hill and set up housekeeping, too.
I felt the need to be near water, so I moved into a daylight basement apartment in Medical Lake. My cohorts at the ad agency where I worked were appalled that I lived “so far away.” What a hoot! My drive to work took not much longer than in Seattle, where I lived only three miles from downtown.
It was fun to be back in an advertising community after six or seven years of doing other things. I felt the stressful pace of Seattle leaving my body and mind. I luxuriated in a slower dance of life. I joined the Unity Church, and noticed my spiritual path was easier to negotiate in the lower-key atmosphere.
But I also noticed that, besides Vicki, I had no social life. Early on, I had mentioned to someone that the people here were so friendly - and they are. Her next statement chilled me. “Yes,” she said, “but see if you ever get an invitation to their homes.” She was right. Of the few friends I have made in this area, all of them are transplants, like me.
In the fall of 1994, I bought a fixer-upper right on Medical Lake, with two picture windows that tear your eyes right out of your head. A step outside my door and I am on a three-mile trail around the lake. It goes by parks, winds in the woods, and wanders through our neighborhood a bit. My home is my comfort and joy.
After about a year in Spokane County, I noticed something peculiar about the newspaper here. Almost every day, in one article or another, there were disparaging, competitive, and/or rude comments about Seattle.
BULLETIN: In Seattle no one knows, cares or thinks about Spokane. So why all the fuss?
I’ve also noticed a self-congratulatory, somewhat smug attitude in the media here about the beauty of the Inland Northwest. I agree it is very beautiful. But it comes in a distant second to Seattle. I get homesick for my snow-covered mountains and the sights, sounds and smells of magnificent Puget Sound.
I miss my family and friends. I sometimes feel as though there is a hole in my soul.
I also miss my history. Maybe it’s bumping into someone with whom I went to grade school, or talking about the year they built the Space Needle. It’s driving by the old KING-TV location and remembering the time my Bluebird troop was on TV with Stan Boreson. It’s surely riding the Edmonds-Kingston ferry and reliving the teenage pain of moving back to the city after spending magic, carefree summers at our cabin on Kingston bay.
My friend, Vicki, doesn’t live here anymore. She likes warehouse work, runs forklifts and such. She couldn’t find a job in which she felt comfortable, so she moved back to Seattle. I’m looking around for work. On the West Side, I’d earned in the range of $35,000 to $53,000, and hadn’t seen $30,000 for years. Over here, $20,000 is considered good pay. And no, I don’t find truth in the myth that living expenses are lower here than in Seattle.
Why then, am I still here? Because I’ve bonded with my house on Medical Lake. I’m truly home when I’m there. And I continue to value the slower pace of life. Primarily, I’m reminded why I live in Spokane County when I go to Seattle and see the traffic, the lines, and the hoards.
It helps me keep a clearer perspective and take pleasure from my life in the Inland Northwest.
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