Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Discoveries

The sky was dark when we left the restaurant this evening, a dinner celebration for a birthday completed. And as we walked out through the gravel parking lot, we noticed the eerie moving of white on the water: a large flock of seagulls rested on the rhythm of the waves, silently glowing in the orange reflection of the cannery’s light.

Curtis and I both commented on the odd collection of birds, clustered dozens upon dozens in this small section of water, floating effortlessly as water moved through the straight. There are sights and smells you get used to in a small fishing town: extra tuff boots for all occasions in all sizes, the heavy scent of smoking fish lingering throughout town during the fall salmon run, discussions of fishing vessels past and present, and the legacies of the owners and routes that match them. Yet even with all that seems typical in a small town with a predictable rhythm, I still find much that is unexpected.

In the city there is often talk of what is coming: a new business or road, an upcoming concert or show, improvements and adjustments and plans for the future. In the small town I sense a greater appreciation for the past: people that have worked and lived and invested for years in an industry, a town, these people, how the present has come to be

As we have searched for a home in the past few months we have realized the alternate identity each home has. A house is not known by its address, but by its previous owners: present or not in the community. The house we are currently in the process of buying has had two different owners, who I now feel like I know quite well—despite the fact that I have never met either of them. I know their names and the families. I know the circumstances of their departures—happy and sad. I know the people that considered the lot before the home was built, and ended up not getting it. These are not just names on a contract here, they are coworkers and employers; they are potentially future friends. 

I know that when we move into this house, it won’t be ours for a while; it will still be theirs. I will describe the way to get to our home, all the while waiting for the inevitable recognition, “Ah, yes. You live in the Jones’s old house.” But eventually it will be ours, a part of our story in a small island town where so much is predictable and so much more is unknown. And so life continues in this place, where tonight I reveled for a few moments in the wonder of seagulls resting on the ocean for the evening. Tomorrow I have no doubt that I will discover something new, hear another story, learn a bit more of the history the makes up this place. And in learning the story, I will be that much more at home.

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