It seems like just 10 months ago I was writing a goodbye letter to Vietnam, and now it’s time to say goodbye to a newfound friend: Washington. We moved here with the intention of having much more time together but Roger and the subsequent hormones demanded otherwise. While JD and I are hugely excited for our next adventure with our move to Michigan today, we also realize we’re leaving a lot behind. Here’s what I will miss about Washington.
Our social lives went from big groups of crazy-hat wearing friendly friends in Vietnam to a much smaller, but special few this year. Between our impromptu day trips, pregnancy fatigue and living more remotely, JD and I used much of our time to just enjoy being together. And I am happy for it. Two will soon become three. We are delighted (still terrified) by the impending arrival, but know that we don’t know how much it will change our daily routine. Having some one-on-one time with my favorite human has been great. With this exclusive mentality, it’s rather amazing we’ve made any friends at all. But we have. And those friends are funny, interesting and exceptionally kind. I will miss them.
Our trip to Canada was not all mountain wilderness. We were lucky enough to see two great Canadian cities as well, Vancouver and Victoria. After living amongst the pines for several months, they were the perfect injection of skyscrapers and pedestrians to satisfy our human interaction quota. Vancouver offered stunning scenery and pop-up-restaurant cool along with a disturbing number of junkies making us wonder where the line between British Columbia and Narcos Colombia was. Victoria was an absolute gem, plain and simple. This smaller island city fully delighted and left us scouring real estate listings.
Our impromptu spring break trip to Canada took us straight into the romance of the Great White North. Banff National Park was a peek inside a snow globe that left us truly impressed.
Even for a directionally challenged loon like me there was something off about driving east to reach the great Rocky Mountains; considered Out West when growing up in Michigan. We drove through never-ending plains of white, past train tracks and tunnels that should have been part of a children’s play set and mountain peaks that looked like Kindergarten renditions of triangle mountains (mad-jestic in JD’s words).
Strangely, I was reminded of Namibia here. They are alike in their opposite extremes. There was the same quiet and same sense of smallness that comes from being the only humans for miles. Although exhilarating, there was also the feeling that we shouldn’t be there, as if we were trespassing on Mother Earth’s hallowed ground. The land was both too sacred and too brutal for us to cruise though in our temperature-controlled car.
As we prepared for a weekend getaway to the mountain town of Leavenworth, I kept running into words like ‘quaint’, ‘charming’, ‘adorable’. But the one review that really made me excited described it as something like Alpine-weird. I was Alpine-interested.
Leavenworth was once just your regular run-on-of-the-mill timber town (pun fun!). But when the railroad relocated, the economy “fell” (sorry, folks, I had to). It “wood”n’t be until several decades later that they decided to turn over a new leaf. So, how do you save a struggling economy in a logging community? Rebrand it as a Bavarian town in Washington, naturally!
Our favorite mitten state will soon be home. Again. We’re moving to Michigan! The mild weather, the swaying palm trees are calling us. Oh, wait. It will be a big, dual peninsula adjustment in many ways, but I am delighted to be a Michigander once more.
Michigan has always been my home. And I’ve missed it. From the far ‘way reaches of Vietnam, I thought Washington would be close enough to make a longer-term place to put my hat. Then we moved here and realized it’s still flipping far. Then there was Roger and an inexplicably strong desire to be physically closer to at least one side of the family, since, unfortunately we can’t be close to both. Then there was our magical trip home at Christmas – full of Roger Reveals and sharing our family’s delight at our soon-to-be baby as they shared ours. For JD and me, it suddenly seemed obvious that, while Washington is beautiful and full of wonderful new friends, Michigan is our base here in the US – not a small statement considering Michigan weather averaged -10 on our trip.
Folic acid has replaced merlot. Hot dogs are temporarily banned and strange things are happening in my body. Clearly, this means we’re having a baby. Woofabbityhoo! Woot! Woot! Lalalalalalaaaaaaa! A real, live, human baby. Holy cow. He/she already has fingernails, working knee joints and body fuzz. Although we’ve officially graduated from embryo to fetus-hood, my favorite scientific term from the stages of development remains blastocyst. Baby Blastocyst is doing just fine and our initial shock is quickly transforming into total delight.
Oh yes, and complete and utter terror, naturally.
I feared marriage would take that which what was once a continuous choice to be together and diamond-ring it into an obligation. After all, too often those we love the most we take for granted the most. Being together as boyfriend and girlfriend seemed a more deliberate, thoughtful approach to a long-term relationship than letting tax filing and health care eligibility incarcerate Camelot by gettin’ hitched. But immigration demanded we put a ring on it and so, quite honestly, did some hard-to-define romantic notion we shared. JD and I were wed –beautifully, wonderfully – after 12 happy unofficial years togeth-o under our belt. That marriage license has proved its weight in gold in paragliding JD o’er the border. Progressive as we Americans may seem as the first world leader, we’re really not. Those dozen years spent in love and in dedicated relationship held a twig to the boy scout campfire one piece of marriage license paper wielded.
Turns out, I’m happy to be married to my forever-love. I’m happier that my forever-love is coming in less than a week. Less than six days, Interveb! We had a nonchalant goodbye at the airport, naively believing that immigration would follow the timeline it set forth in its own documents. Now, three and a half months later, I get to really, actually see my husband! Like an overprotective, rifle collecting father, the United States government has deemed my husband worthy of actually being in the same country as me.
Being close is cool. Suddenly I can chat in the evening when it’s also the evening for family and friends gathered together today to celebrate us all being in the U S of Blessed A. Suddenly West Coast chums are watching the sun go down just as I am, even if it’s from California instead of Washington.
I’ve heard before that travel makes the world seem smaller. Maybe it’s my years of travel that make me giddy to be so close with those I love who are still not actually here in my new state.
Last week JD left Vietnam. In many ways it feels like the final curtain call on our time in Da Nang. When I left, it was a certain close of a chapter. But, he carried on our connection to our fun, fancy-free and sometimes (fabulously?) dysfunctional life there. When he left, we really, actually left. And I really, actually moved here.
It’s a bit sad. And a bit happy.