Orcas Island. Month 2. I’m apparently island hopping in rank order, as this month’s selection is the second largest island in Washington State, falling behind Whidbey by a not insignificant 112 square miles. Sorry, Orcas…my petite, charming friend!
Sweet Orcas Island, with its saddlebags shape and wondrous, rural roads. I have, once again, fallen in love with this little oasis. I’ve been here before and remember the beautiful shades of wood sitting beside shells of every color purple at the beach in Eastsound, the breathtaking panoramic views from Mount Constitution, and the bewitching woman sitting beside me at the New Leaf Cafe. I remember feeling calmed and connected, nourished and new. I’ve come to this enchanted spot before and, back then just as now, felt instantly embraced. There’s a warmth here, a spirit, some sort of magic that unmistakably soothes and softens.
What is it about the energy we feel in different environments? Why do some places speak to us, while others are silent? Why do some bring out darkness, why do others show us light?
I remember my years living in Los Angeles. I remember what the environment there did to me, grew in me. I remember starting my days at home, feeling good, energized, exhilarated, excited. I remember feeling ready to be productive. Poised for positivity. Sure that the horrors of yesterday would not repeat, as they had so many times before. And I remember taking this attitude out into the world. Onto the cement sidewalks of the city, towards the loneliness of La Cienega, La Brea, Los Feliz. And finally, at the end…back again, to the four corners of my world. And I remember, then, the matter of minutes that it took on those days, once outside, to crush me. To force the realization, once again, that the world around me was misaligned. That the air I gulped was sucking my soul. And that the waves alone could not sustain me.
I remember fighting against, I remember trying to adapt. I remember giving up, and I remember giving in. I remember the sadness, the desperation, the exhaustion, and the heartbreak. I remember, ultimately, not knowing what to do.
There was something bigger than me there in that city of sun tans and sex, of fame and fortune. There was something that I’d never be. Something I couldn’t fit into, didn’t want to fit into. Always something to struggle against. And always something that didn’t like me. The city and I were not a good match. And after 11 long years of battle, I wrote my letter and left.
And then I found myself surrounded by this new city, called Seattle. I remember starting new, hoping for differences, not knowing what I’d find. I wasn’t expecting connection. I wasn’t expecting love. I just wanted a new canvas. Perhaps something inspired. And what I noticed soon after was that the environment in Seattle supported me in ways that were not conceivable (for me) in LA. I remember days that started slowly, with expectations low and energy diminished. And I remember going outside on those days and being greeted by a world around me that was, unexpectedly, on my side. By a world that actually heard me and held me, that saw me and showed me. I remember very clearly the many times that I ran down Belmont, bathed by the views of Lake Union and the softness of the snow capped mountains. I remember being surprised by the glimmers and shines reflecting off the mirrored walls of downtown buildings as I glanced to my left while walking down Denny. I remember searching and spotting the Space Needle from virtually every location I could find, and recognizing, always, that it was there for me. That I was now in a place that would nurture and support me. In a city that gave me the opportunity, after so many years, to shine back.
There’s this energy about different places that calls to us, right? And it’s up to us to decide if we want to take notice or not. We decide which parts of us are open to hearing and which voices in us want to be heard. I hear Orcas Island speaking strongly to me now, and I feel grateful that I have nearly a month more to listen to what it has to say.