Saturday, August 10, 2013

New Rhythms and Landmarks, or The Smell of Home


Yesterday the sun came out, catching the waves with blinding wrinkles. Six windmills atop the local mountain stood still, and we even noticed the faint presence of bugs--a rarity in a place with almost constant wind. 

Curtis was off for the day and the three of us ventured out to walk downtown, perusing old shops he remember from his childhood and new shops that weren't familiar at all. It is an interesting experience to revisit the place of your childhood when you have been gone for over a decade. Sure, we have visited many times and spent many weeks here over the course of the last several years. Visits don't reveal the intricacies that have changed, details that reveal themselves over time.

I find myself in this inbetween state these days, not a stranger to the island and yet far from a local. When I am referred to a shop or a destination, I can often picture the locations, yet I'm not sure how to get there. And this is where I have noticed an interesting trend: many locals have no idea what any of the street names are. They don't need to. The library is across from the fire station and next to the hardware store. The trail head is next to the Nazarene church around the corner from the veteran's building. 

While I learn the lay of the land in a new place, Curtis learns a new rhythm for a new job. To finally be free of having to check all your work with a superior can be as terrifying as it is freeing, and when this solo decision making is made in front of acquaintances and friends, the stakes can feel even higher. 

Today in the midst of a lull of the afternoon baby and I sat out in the fresh air and sunshine, the salty, fishy smell of the sea crisp and clear. "This is the smell of home," I whispered in her ear. And so we continue to settle in, learning the offerings of the local businesses, the locations of landmarks, and collecting the ripest salmonberries as we wander our way. 

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