We are nomads. We are on the road. We’ve made it to our first landing spot, the very exotic Bellingham, WA.
That, if you can’t tell, is a statement laced with sarcasm. Bellingham for those unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest is approximately 90 minutes north of Seattle and for all intents and purposes, is Seattle’s mini-me. I say this with the utmost appreciation because we love so many things about Seattle and to find a town that ultimately is basically the same, sans all the things we don’t really like (traffic, sprawl, distance to the countryside) is like a gift. Many of our friends are banking on us landing in Bellingham because, well, why wouldn’t we?
Here’s what we’ve learned about Bellingham so far:
- Beer is everywhere and cheap. Like $4 a pint or $15 a pitcher, or for those more like Mr. B, $14 for a growler (including the growler). And we’ve spent a lot of time at breweries–they’re inexpensive, usually dog-friendly and have great outdoor areas. We love Aslan (great food!), Kulshan (great vibe!) and especially Wander. Double hearts for the cool name and super cool space.
- Movies are pricey. Mr. B was horrified that he spent $16 on a matinee ticket “and it wasn’t even 3D!”
- Local food is even more accessible (if that’s conceivable) than Seattle. The local paper has a section in the entertainment pages that lists all the local farmers markets. And there are A. LOT. And then like four co-ops. They’re everywhere.
- There are four independent bookstores in this town of 85,000, and two are within a block of one another. Village Books has everything you’d want in a bookstore–three floors, sunlit, on the bay, with awesome staff and a great used selection. Eclipse is intimidating–everything is in piles, I’m not kidding, but there is something enchanting about it too.
- Real estate still ain’t cheap. It certainly isn’t Seattle, but it is on the high end of what we’re hoping to spend in terms of housing. That said, there are tons of little towns within a few miles of Bellingham that could potentially offer some alternatives.
- Getting outside is so easy it’s criminal to stay inside. Between Lake Padden Park (complete with off leash hiking trails!), the South Bay and Boulevard trail that runs along Bellingham Bay, Larrabee State Park that encompasses the famous Chuckanut Drive, there are a bajillion reasons to just take a stroll. But getting into the mountains or on the water is almost in your backyard as well.
All these things are great for the info bank. Obviously, the reason we decided to embark on this journey is to find a place that we are smitten with and committed to living and working in. So, good job, Beahans. We are nothing if not efficient at data collection.
I said to Brian today, though, (and perhaps this is a DUH moment for everyone else), is that what I’m learning more about right now are my own idiosyncrasies–and those of us as a couple.
I’m learning that yes, I am an introvert and after vacating my home forever, eight days of writing residency and communal living, without a little down time, I turn into a feral cat. I hiss and spit and then I cry. I find myself so turned upside down that I can’t find my way out of my own funk.
I am learning that traveling with a dog is sort of like traveling with a baby. I guess it’s good practice, but unlike a baby, which you can take into the coffee shop, your dog has to be tied up outside. And, my dog, for all his adorable qualities, suffers from considerable separation anxiety and particularly in times of stress. Also, in times of stress, apparently he farts. A lot.
I keep trying to get ahead on my work for this MFA program that I am so in love with, because, frankly, aside from loving it, I have no excuse, I have SO MUCH TIME. And I haven’t yet found a groove. I can’t seems to find the space that suits me, I am tied in knots every time I sit down to write and so all I can manage to do is read, read, read.
Have I mentioned that I can be an anxious person?
We have two weeks in August that we have not yet scheduled. We don’t have a home. I didn’t think that would be a big deal, but it is. Not because it’s so difficult to find a place–though, for the record, finding a place to stay on short notice in Washington in summer is NOT as simple as it sounds–but because I can’t commit to anything. Everything is too far, too expensive, too rustic, too extravagant, too out of the way, too close to where we’ve been. Brian was helping me look at campgrounds and cabins today and finally just stared at me in exasperation. “What ARE you looking for, Sarah?” The answer is cozy, quiet, but not too secluded, clean, but quaint, and free.
Impossible? No way.
In stressful situations–even the good ones–I do two really annoying things. I get very noncommittal and very worried. I will find ANYTHING to worry about. I worry about how much money we are spending (you have to eat, Sarah), that I haven’t gotten enough work done (it hasn’t even been a week since residency and the semester hasn’t even started), that I’m eating too much/not enough/drinking too much/not sampling enough variety/eating local enough/spending too much money on food, that I’m not exercising enough/the right way, that my husband isn’t putting on enough sunscreen, that I packed too much/not enough/the wrong things, that my dog is farting because he has an intestinal parasite that is eating him from the inside out. Yes. I am not kidding, those are my worries.
I hope you just skipped that paragraph because I am currently worried that I’ve revealed too much, been too open, and you are all thinking I’m crazy.
So, clearly there is more to be learned than what locale is the best fit for us. It’s pretty apparent that my world is going to get rocked and I’ll probably emerge on the other side of this not anywhere the same place as I started, literally and figuratively.