That statement still sounds odd to me but, in addition to celebrating one year of marriage, I also feel like I should celebrate one year of living in the Pacific Northwest. I've said it once and I'll say it again (and again and again), this year has flown by! I can so clearly remember how I felt preparing to move and start my life way out here. I was so excited, I was so ready for this new adventure. Washington seemed so foreign to me, so unknown and I couldn't wait to explore it. I remember how different everything looked when I first came to visit T.J., the houses, the style, the trees, the mountains.
Sometimes I still can't believe I live here. I've been here now for a little over a year and even though I still refer to this place as "way out here," it's home. I've fallen in love with our house, the town, and the community we've found and I feel like I can pass on some observations now that I'm not quite so new.
When we first found out we would be moving to Washington, a lot of people, who had never lived in Washington, gave me a lot of opinions and advice. Roughly 99% of that was about the weather, more specifically about all the endless rain that would surely leave me in a dark puddle of sadness with endless bad hair days and a seasonal affective disorder.
I personally wasn't worried about the weather (that much) because I'd done my time in England and I'd heard the climates were similar. And I'm glad to report that everyone's concerns were mostly exaggerated. Yes it rains here, yes the winters are gloomier and darker but it's not as bad as people seem to think. The rain is not like the rain you get on the east coast. It's rarely a huge deluge, and I've only heard thunder once. It's more like a steady mist or drizzle and you learn to ignore it and get out of the house anyway. And if you can make it through the winter... you are in for the greatest summer weather! Lonnng days full of sunlight, very little rain, no humidity, perfect temperatures.
This may seem like an odd thing to comment on but it's seriously one of the first differences we noticed moving out here. When T.J. came out on his house-hunting trip he made a comment to his realtor about how everyone goes exactly the speed limit. His realtor gave him a quizzical look and said, "What else would they drive? That's the speed limit." I don't know about you, but to me going 5-7 miles over the speed limit is not really speeding, especially on the interstate, in the fast lane! I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself thinking, "why am I passing everyone? Am I going too fast?" only to look at my speedometer and see that, no, everyone else is just going 5-10mph under the speed limit. Also, my assumption was that since it rains more here, people would be better at driving in the rain. Hah.
Coming from the east coast I had a lot of stereotypes in my head about
the Pacific Northwest and it's inhabitants. A bunch of hippies and
hipsters. Lots of vegetarians, and liberals. A lot of weed and a lot of bandwagon Seahawks fans. And while
yes, all of those things are found out here (in more abundance than
South Carolina), it is just a stereotype. I find there is less of a standard "look" and a lot more individual styles which I actually find refreshing. In general though, everything, and everyone, seems to be more casual. Hardly anyone dresses up (I've barely worn half the stuff in my closet since moving here), and you can pretty much wear jeans and rain boots anywhere. Even at what I consider to be a more "fancy" restaurant, that T.J. and I went to for our anniversary, I've seen people in sweatshirts (and Seahawks jerseys...).
The PNW life.
My favorite part of living out here is that there is so much to do. This was a stereotype I was happy to find to be very true. My bucket list has quadrupled since we arrived! We are surrounded by beautiful mountains on every side. Close your eyes, spin in a circle and point in any direction and you can be in the Cascades or the Olympics or standing by the water in no time at all. There's wine country, "beaches," volcanoes, waterfalls, and glaciers. There are so many places to go hiking and exploring and everything feels less developed, less like an attraction, and more like a way of life. It seems that everyone loves to be outdoors and everyone has their own pair of snowshoes and everyone knows the best trails. We've barely scratched the surface and I have to wonder if I'll ever not be caught off guard by the sight of Mt.Rainier looming in the distance.
If not for the Army and T.J.'s job sending us here, I know we'd probably never have had the chance to live in Washington and really get to know this side of the country. We only have 3 and half more years out here and then who knows where we'll end up next. While at first I thought
that sounded like a long time - residency woes make the days drag by - it's going to be gone before we know it. I just want to keep soaking it all in because this place is going to be so hard to leave when the time comes.