A Year Ago

July 25, 2008

We moved here a year ago.   It was a big, grown-up move.

Grown-up in the sense of: the new job (my husband’s) came before the move, we stayed in a hotel instead of a campground while we looked for a place to rent, and we didn’t choose our new city by positive preference.

Big in the sense of: our first time renting a moving truck.  In the past we carried all our worldly goods in the bed of a pickup, wedged into a disintegrating pickup camper, by minivan relay, or in a trailer towed by a parent.

Before the move we lived in a progressive, friendly, quirky small city in a gorgeous coastal location, which also just happened to feature by my favorite gardening climate in the whole world (zone 4).  We had only been living in town for a year and a half.  Before that we’d been ten miles out in the county.

So why did we move?  Well, as places do, the gorgeous coastal location turned out to be ripe for the gentry’s picking–never mind that the nearest metropolitan area is two hours away.  When we arrived eight years ago it was just on the cusp, and we were clueless.  By the time we left it was making national news for some of the most inflated house prices in the country.

Surprisingly, this didn’t stop the quirky faction from hanging on with finger- and toe-nails to their houses, though the skyrocketing property taxes forced them to shop at the liquidation store for their dented vegetarian beans and drive their VW vans on bald tires.  Did the fact that they could never, ever hope to afford a house stop the college students from staying on after graduation?  Did it matter that the job market for the creative professions was so glutted in this artist-infested town, designers were working for peanuts (or not at all), just because they REALLY LOVED where they lived?  Nope.  But we decided it was time we skedaddled.

It was a love-hate thing for us, living in The Town Everyone Loves, because we are not townies by nature. We had given up our rented farm cottage under extreme landlord/road construction/mold infestation duress.  Desperation (and lack of anything cheaper) made us sign a lease on a house in town we could not really afford because we knew it would be temporary.  A last hurrah.

The city charmed us in that final year-and-three-quarters, despite missing our ducks and our garden and our leafy privacy.  How could it not?  It was fighting the good fight against gentrification, as much as any place so clearly on the losing side of the battle can do.  The little yards of our neighbors’ working-class Queen Annes were bursting with flowers.  People.  Actually.  Walked.  We loved being being able to walk downtown and to shop for groceries on foot!  Some days a walk to the post office felt like stepping into Richard Scary’s Busiest People Ever, with all the residents going about their business in cheery water-colored miniature.  We loved the friendly coffee-toting protesters; the art; the surprisingly good music venues where hippies, hipsters, and college students bopped side-by-side.  We loved the natural parks and greenways and made use of them daily. We loved the acquiring librarians at the local public library, past and present, for their excellent judgement.  We loved the reliably changeable weather.  I learned to weave.

We did not love being on the outside looking in at all this, which is what happens when you come to a place knowing you are leaving it.  We hated being exhausted and ill and unsure of the future–though this was coincidental.  We did not like having a fully, dully landscaped yard cared for by our landlords, and we did not like living across the back fence from their looming house.  It was unrewarding, forcing ourselves to be more frugal than college students in a place where there were actually good things to spend money on.  The huge condos and fake-old-fashionedy upscale retail spaces sprouting downtown apalled us.  It hurt to watch houses in our neighborhood being grotesquely realtorized for flipping.  (Though I suppose it was our own fault when we checked flyers to see how expensive they were.)  We did not approve of the people who moved into those houses, simply for the fact that they could afford them.  Nobody likes the nouveau riche when they invade Bohemia.

I can’t feel as invested in the fate of our new town, even though we have no plans to leave it.  It’s really hard to believe we’ve been here a year because we still feel like aliens.  –Schleppy, undercover, much-less-cooler-than-when-we-arrived aliens, but still.  We thought we were going to be the Bohemians invading the nouveau riche.  We found out it doesn’t work that way.

I’m grateful for a place to live at all.  And I’m glad der Mann is working in his field.  And I’m really, really, glad I don’t have to pack 24’ of stuff into a 16’ moving truck ever again.  Knock on wood.

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9 Responses to “A Year Ago”

  1. Suzan Says:

    You must be talking Portland or Seattle? I visited a good friend in Seattle last year and was mightily impressed by its “coolness”. But I like being able to have a home, too.

  2. trapunto Says:

    Good guess, but actually no. (And I see my prejudices are still enough intact a year later to want to say so!) No, Seattle was the 2-hour-away source of the invading nouveau riche urbanites. When I say we weren’t townies, I’m talking not even townies in a town with a population (then) of about 70,000. I wonder if somebody else will guess.

  3. Holly Says:

    My guesses: Port Angeles, Port Townsend or Sequim.
    I’m leaning toward Port Angeles. Oh wait — Olympia! (going with the college clue)

  4. trapunto Says:

    All good guesses, but think more toward . . . maple leaves. Don’t tell me Port Angeles has fallen into the Great Maw too! We haven’t been there for 8 years (yikes! time flies!), but somehow we always thought of Port Angeles as back up! I wonder what Twilight tourism will do to the peninsula. Maybe we should go for a visit before the movie comes out.

  5. Jane Says:

    Well, I guess not Old Woodinville since I’m thinking it hasn’t grown to 70K and is much closer to Seattle (if it hasn’t been swallowed by Seattle now). I haven’t been there since my Hippie days back in the very early 70s.

    Living at high altitude and in Zone 5 (which I love compared to having lived for years in zone 7) — I often sigh over Zone 4 flowers and plants. You are so blessed, and I’m envious!

    It is sad indeed when the glitterati and neogentry infiltrate Bohemia. I watched that happen to a couple of my very beloved places in WY — (we refer to the infiltrators as Rolex Wranglers) where now, even the people who work there can’t afford to live there.

    Reading about your grown up move, and the place you have left behind has brought back a lot of memories. I’m so wishing for you a place that you love, where you feel relaxed and happy to be every day when you awake and every night as you shut down the house before bed. Oh — and with a great carport salon.

    Jane <— who is still immersed in Poland

  6. trapunto Says:

    Holly’s got it.

    Thank you for the good wishes, Jane. I’d love to hear about your hippie days!

  7. Holly Says:

    I’ve only been up there a couple a times on business and didn’t have time to explore. But it’s on my list…it’s just too tempting to zip past and go to Vancover.


  8. […] wasn’t too disappointed because I was soon in a yarn and book frenzy.  The yarn store where we used to live carried a few odds and ends of weaving and spinning stuff, but there is a world of difference […]


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