I live in a really gorgeous state. That would be Washington state, fyi. I’ve lived here since 1980, the year I was born — I wasn’t born here, but my parents moved here within 6 months of my birth.
I’ve had a pretty up-and-down relationship with Washington state. As a kid, I disliked the rain. I was also convinced, at the age of 7, that if I said, “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day,” three times fast, I could actually make the rain go away. I demonstrated my abilities to my kid sister, who was (obviously) wowed by my magical skills. My kid sister was also wowed by my ‘ability’ to sense blue m&m’s by taste, though, so not the most discerning child out there (the secret is to peek through your eyelashes, so it looks like your eyes are actually closed).
By the time I was 13, I decided to no longer let the rain bother me. So it rained — it’s not like I or anyone else could stop it. That’s the price you pay to live in Washington. This attitude worked well the entire time I was under my parent’s auspices.
Then I turned 21 and got married. A subtle shift in my attitude toward the rain started to happen. I hated it. Every winter was a little more difficult to get through. I found myself daydreaming of Texas or New Mexico or Nevada or California — in the case of the three former states, I was held back from moving there by their red-state policies, lack of social programs, and the reputedly dangerously violent police departments. In the case of California, I was held back by their high cost of living and the reputedly high-maintenance atmosphere of the state.
I like how laid-back Washington is. I like the dreadlocks and tattoos and flannel shirts and body piercings. I like that my friends run the gamut from christians to pagans to atheists to liberals to conservatives, and that if you toss us all in a room we’ll still find something in common to talk about.
But the rain, the gray overcast skies, the worsening winters — all those issues really screwed with me, especially come winter. There was briefly talk of moving to Alaska in 2004, a discussion that terrified the living bejesus out of me. My husband and I tried to float our concerns with the plan, but were so uniformly dismissed that we actually ended up buying a house just to get out of moving to Alaska. It’s a long story that could embarrass the other parties involved, but suffice to say, healthy communication is an on-going learning process, and we perhaps could have dealt with the pressure we felt in a different, less house-buying way. Live and learn.
Anyway, the house was great — the land sucked. It was in a flood plain, and it was a seriously stressful, awful time in our lives. Our house flooded, our mortgage re-financed, our flood insurance rose, and our finances went to hell in a handbasket. It sucked donkey balls.
I began to tense up whenever I saw rain clouds. To me, the first strong rainstorm in September or October heralded a wet, miserably, flood-inundated winter. If it snowed before February, I went into a panic — heavy snows meant run-off from the mountains in the spring, meant the possibility of serious flooding was much higher. It was a constant state of stress, and I just couldn’t handle it.
Now that we’re back in a rental and out of the flood plains, I look at this gorgeous, bipolar state that can’t decide whether to be sunny and gorgeous or rainy and depressing, and I just think, “Wow. I’m really lucky to live in Washington.”
This state is awesome. Gorgeous, twisty mountain roads and highways for scenic motorcycle rides; ubiquitous coffee shops for every flavor/ inclination; a short drive to beach or desert or mountain; outdoor activities galore; a plethora of Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, Greek, German, Italian, and (of course) American cuisines available within a 15 minute or less drive; a thriving computer/ tech industry; a culture that values books, libraries, and education; Evergreen State College; luscious rain forests; Leavenworth; Pikes Place Market; the smell of the first rainfall; the colors of the leaves in autumn; the towering evergreens that line every road and freeway — it’s just an incredible place. Moreover, this awesome state is actually weathering the recession fairly well, especially in comparison to places like Texas or New Mexico — states I was considering moving to only a few short years ago. Even better, while there have been some cuts to social programs, it hasn’t been at the level of many other states. I hate the idea of cutting social programs at all, but the fact that Washington state has done and continues to do what they can to support the common people with social programs is pretty awesome and makes me proud.
Sure, there are things that upset me about Washington state. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t agree 100% with our government, and I still get frustrated at what feels like near-constant rain. But of all the imperfect places to live, I would definitely choose Washington as among the best.