Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Welcome, friends

Thinking about attending a 25th high school reunion makes me happy - I love seeing old friends again, and I look forward to getting to know new friends who should be old friends by now but I was too dumb to make it happen back then.

As a teacher, I try daily to impress upon my teenage students that it is immensely important to make some connections with the people they are struggling through school with. They are so focused on getting gone from their small town [sound familiar to some of us?] that they think making too many friends here & now will slow them down, hold them back. What they don't realize is that making friends here & now can build them up, give them roots.

I did not relish living in Oak Harbor throughout my childhood - too many people knew too much about me; it was so small there was no room for cool record shops or clothes stores; it was far away from Where Things Happened. In my kid mind, nothing EVER happened in Oak Harbor. There was NOTHING to do. It was boring and stupid and horrible and I was going to live in Seattle when I grew up.

But every summer our family traveled through Eastern Washington, California, Texas and I started to realize that, at the very least, we actually had a pretty place to live. Other places didn't have those everlasting Evergreens alongside rocky beaches and miles of farmland. And we did have some interesting elements: nobody else had Fort Casey in their backyard, or fighter jets flying overhead, or a Roller Barn, a bay and a lagoon, or a place called Kow Korner where the cooks remembered how you liked your burger. Plus everyone thought living on an island sounded so exotic.

I figured out how to enjoy the shops we did have room for. I took such pleasure in frequenting Masten's, and our musty old theater, and that strangely-spelled drive-up joint (where I ended up working for more than 2 years) that I sobbed when they closed and still avert my eyes when driving by their former locations.

I like that my kids are excited to visit their aunt & grandparents. I like the feeling I get crossing over Deception Pass Bridge or riding the Mukilteo ferry. I like the idea of heading back for Holland Happening and 4th of July more often. I like that when I say "I'm going home," I mean Oak Harbor.

Hope to see you this summer, friend.


  1. Timothy Collett,
    Ah the days of yore Stephanie, i so vividly remember back in the day wandering the streets of Oak Harbor and always ending up at Kow Korner, or the Pizza joint next to harbor Tavern to play video games late into the night. Then of course Bears arcade that Barry owned was another memory.
    I wonder how the time could have gone so quickly, now i just cannot wait till i move back to Oak Harbor, it will always be home!

  2. So I'm not *supposed* to be here, but this was lovely Stephanie. (I love your little island; I have great youth group camping memories at Fort Casey. Gorgeous.)