When you move across the country from the place you’ve called home for 34 years, you anticipate an adjustment period. Obviously, the surroundings will be different — that much is only to be expected, and in our case was one of the underlying aims of the move — and the newness of it all is a big part of the excitement. There’s business to attend to, however, not the least of which is finding a house that fits your needs. Thanks to the almost dangerously impulsive nature of both John and me, that detail was accomplished within the first month after our arrival.
There was, of course, the rather tortuous interval between our buying this house and ultimately moving into it, but the wait is thankfully over. Two weeks ago we carted all our worldly goods from the rental house to our new home, and have since unpacked almost every box, arranged nearly every piece of furniture and hung almost all the artwork.
We couldn’t be more thrilled. At least twice a day I exclaim, “I love this house!”
Lest you think I’m not allowing ample time between outbursts, I must point out just how long a day lasts up here. At this time of year, it starts getting light outside around 4:45 a.m. I’ve begun keeping one of those goofy eye masks on my nightstand so I can slip it over my head once the brightness (assisted by Pablo the cat) tries to urge us out of bed so crazy early in the morning.
Sunset is as late as sunrise is early. It doesn’t get totally dark until well after 10 p.m.
While we quickly adjusted to just about everything moving to Washington threw at us, we were kind of wary about the one thing that was missing: friends. Thirty-four years is a long time to live in one place and it’s only natural that a lot of friends are made along the way. Leaving them was difficult enough; the prospect of finding new ones sometimes felt out of reach.
It’s not that people in Port Townsend aren’t friendly. They are. But for the first couple months we lived here, we never were able to more than scratch the surface with anyone in particular. Maybe we’re too picky. Or sensitive. Like at a gathering we barged into at the beginning of June, an old-fashioned beefy, porky chili cook-off, of all things (not a likely venue for quasi-vegetarians), one of the other attendees sparked up a conversation with us. When we mentioned we were organic farmers the past 14 years, he replied, “Yeah, well I’ve been gardening since I was a kid.”
Not exactly the same thing. Besides, we didn’t mean it as a competition.
Our failure to hook up with anybody became a running joke between us. After every casual meeting with someone, as we parted ways with them either John or I would whisper to the other, “Will you be our friend?”
Then we met Varen and Walter. They bought the house we were renting and the moment we all introduced ourselves, it seemed like we might actually hit it off.
In fact, the first evening we went out to dinner together, Walter asked me what it was like being a farmer, and wondered if it was difficult.
“I mean, it sounds awfully hard,” he said, “what with the uncertainties of weather and the insects you must have had to deal with.”
He understood. We had found, to my infinite relief, new friend material.
And it continues. The development we moved into is called Cape George, and it’s quite the community. As residents, we were invited to a Summer Solstice party last Friday evening down by the waterfront. (The invitation said to bring “jackets or blankets.” To celebrate summer.) Then yesterday we received an email announcing the first bloom of one of the neighbor’s Giant Lily, asking everyone come view it that evening and bring desserts to share.
“Friendly” doesn’t begin to describe the people who live in Cape George. Everyone waves hello and stops to chat. Several people have come by to introduce themselves. It’s like they’re all Stepford Wives,
except here they’re Stepford Husbands too. Honestly, you can’t take a walk around the neighborhood without two or three people inviting you into their homes.
Should we be nervous?