6 months ago, I drove to this beach to decide between 2 job offers. A few weekends ago, I took Matthew with me.
I was not deciding between job offers–I’m still applying for new roles–but we try to get out of the city and breathe some free air at least once a month. This time, I wanted to show him this beach. If you grew up in California, Washington beaches are startling. They are flat. People drive their cars on them. They are black from the black basalt sand that runs down the Cascades to the coast. The approaching roads are tagged with tsunami evacuation signs.
We played some frisbee, I dipped my toes in the water, then we lay and caught what few rays of sun were breaking through the cloud-cover. We shared the beach with 4 horses, 10 cars, 2 dogs and both seagulls and 1 out-of-place raven.
It is easy in Washington state to live within the I-5 corridor and feel like I am traveling far. But whether I am in Bellevue or Bellingham, Olympia or Seattle, I’m still within a few dozen breaths of a 4 lane freeway. Driving away from the highway, driving out to the Port of Aberdeen and then further, was a chance to remember how many ways of living the Pacific Northwest can hold. There are towns that used to rely on the timber trade and have little more than history to hold them together now. There are towns feeling the growing influence of commercially-produced legal marijuana. There are more municipal ports and airports than anyone near I-5 could guess, all helping to underpin their rural economies.
I spent a long weekend learning about those local economies a month ago as part of the Institute for a Democratic Future. It was a region I had explored virtually in support of one of my fellow Fellows who is running to represent a similarly rural and ocean-touching area in southwest Washington in her local hospital district (I built her a website). Taking Matthew to that beach was a good reminder that there are many ways to live in 2015, many ways to build community and exist within it.
After the first time I went to that beach the job I ended up taking–as Legislative Session Aide for Representative Ross Hunter, the chair of the House Budget Committee–gave me a valuable window through which to understand these rural communities. I know where to find the budget line-item that pays for staff to oversee their beaches, and why fees to access those beaches have gone up. I have met some of the people who represent this community and communities like it. But the act of walking on the ground teaches me more about what it means to be in a community like this than any spreadsheet ever could.
“How do you find America?”
“Turn left at Greenland.” ― Ringo Starr