In my mind, we “spent our summers” in Puget Sound. In reality, it was a few small trips and one big summer.
Before that summer, we lived on the edge of a one mile canyon filled with succulents. My brother and I used to slide down the ice plants on makeshift “sleds” while our Mother gardened. One day, as we climbed back into the yard, we heard bees humming over the flower beds as our Mother silently read a letter.
San Diego didn’t feel like home. Our Father was gone most of the time. It was the late 60’s and the Vietnam war was ongoing. I remember Mom crying as she scrubbed the tub one morning. When I asked her why, she replied “one of the damned ‘flower power’ slip proof stickers is peeling up,” then admitted she was missing our Father. Little things blew up into big things and sometimes we took major life events in stride.
We weren’t from anywhere. We were from moving vans and packing stickers, going coast to coast and overseas, always making new friends but really knowing no one. We were a military family that moved often, yet every place felt like home when we were together.
The news from my Father was good. He was coming back and we would be spending the entire summer in Bremerton, WA, home of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. My Mom was born and raised in King County and my parents met in Seattle. Bremerton was just a ferry ride from Mom’s family. This felt like going home.
We got to ride the USS Ticonderoga up the Pacific coast to our next home. My brother and I got to meet many relatives for the first time. My Mom’s mother had long since passed, but our great Aunt and Uncle, and great grandfather welcomed us as if Mom hadn’t been gone for years.
That summer left lasting impressions of Puget Sound. In addition to getting to know family, we made memories picking berries, digging for clams, and enjoying the lush surroundings and temperate weather. As we continued to move, often long distances, we would visit only a handful of times over the coming decades.
Nearly 50 years later, retired and newly married, my husband and started traveling extensively and talking about where we might spend our life together. Both of us had left “home” (that place our Fathers were then working) to work where our own employers wanted us to be, only seeing family on holidays. What if we could chose our own home? Where would that be? Our trips included vacations to where various friends and family members lived, or that we had otherwise enjoyed. We both had connections to the Pacific Northwest; mine in Puget Sound and his in Western Canada. Things kept pointing us in this direction.
A few vacation rentals later, we knew where we wanted to be and bought a house site unseen. We knew where the neighborhood was, it had the view we wanted, it was near (or a ferry ride away) from various friends and family, and it felt right because we picked it and we’d be together. So, we packed our bags, the cats and one last moving van.
When we arrived, the house had been empty a couple of months and the yard was full of wildlife wondering who we were. However, the neighbors greeted us saying how nice it was to see the lights on again and welcomed us home.
My Mother would have turned 90 this weekend. This is dedicated to her and the memories she helped create. I bet she’s pleased. It feels good to get settled in and start writing again.
Why do you live where you live? Let me know in the comments!