I will always love you. Your air is different here. It’s more crisp, more alive with little droplets of water and scents of plants still on it, like an apple picked off the tree that’s warm in all the right places. Exactly how I remember it. I see a tall green plant and recall that it comes out of the earth like a spear if you pull it hard enough, perfect for playing the part of Maid Marian in Sherwood Forest. I remember those little pink flowers, too. And the white ones with the star shaped petals. I don’t remember their names, but they were part of every pixie palace I ever created. Now they’re clenched in my daughter’s grubby little hand. Her hands don’t get like that back in the city. It’s nice to see little grass stained feet and some sunkissed cheeks; it’s a good look on her.
I’m all grown up now, but I still love you. There’s such a serenity to this mountain. A lot has changed in life. I see it in your cities and in your people. I see it in myself. But this has never changed: There is still a wide open place on this mountain for a soul to commune with God. This feels like home, and it always will. Still don’t know if we’ll ever be together to stay, but I didn’t want to let you go without saying that I love you.
Even so, there are a couple of things that hit me like a dose of icy Washington lake water when I got here. First up: What’s the deal with this plastic bag ban in Bellingham? How did that ever get passed? I mean, I guess you really are on the forefront of the trend toward eco-friendly products (I hear Chicago just joined the team), and you definitely look a lot more hip with your reusable bags and stuff, but you realize that all those reusable bags are going to end up in a landfill eventually, too, right? Soooo plastic bags are out and marijuana is in. Got it.
Also, is it just me or is there a widespread problem with passive-aggressive behavior across your whole state? I’m positive that this plays a major role in the Seattle Freeze phenomenon. Maybe you just don’t realize what this is (I didn’t, for a long time), but I recommend that you educate yourself, because I can see it wreaking havoc on the majority of relationships I see here. Most noticeably, I see it coming out in customer service situations. I guess when you have all that pent up resentment from not being able to express yourself adequately, you have to take it out on someone, even the desperately nice Jamba Juice lady who is struggling to fill all those orders.
Also, I tried to understand hipster culture out here and I just don’t get it. So you’re putting a lot of effort into looking effortless? So you’re not a nerd, or a geek, and you’re not eccentric, you’re still definitely cool and you don’t want to be associated with those who aren’t, but you’re dressing just like them? Somebody please help me out. (You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.)
Lastly (and this is the serious one), I had to use both hands to count the number of affairs and broken marriages I have heard about on this trip. Please don’t take this as judgement. I realize that I in no way know the full story behind any of these marriages; all I’m saying is that I feel the weight of this brokenness and the volume of pain that is there. All of these marriages were between Christian couples and it leads me to wonder if the church is asking/pursuing the wrong questions of life and God. I don’t presume to know what the right questions are. There are some solid people here who love God, that’s for sure, but it might be a time to take a step back and look at where we’re heading and what priorities we’re placing where.
Oh Washington, it’s hard to say goodbye to you, but at the same time, I’m glad to go home. “Home” is more than a land these days, it’s become a place of belonging to someone else. And those someones are not here. I will miss the way you keep your mountains locked away in fields of clouds, modestly displaying their grandeur only to those who will wait for it. You have taught me so much about sacred beauty. I will miss your almond milk london fogs which are to die for. I will definitely miss the faces you hold. Until next time.