I used to work on the corner of Railroad and Holly, subtle song lyrics in Death Cab for Cutie’s “Movie Script Ending,” a song that features the nooks and crannies of the place I have accidentally made my home.
The city I live in, the city I am moving from, is located two hours north of the “big city,” the city that everyone defines as “The City” in the state of Washington. We practically border Canada, everyone’s dreamy country of hope and tolerance. We are covered in green trees, brand new local breweries, people who love mountains, and hiking, and composting their food. We have a great balance of chain restaurants and places no one else has ever heard of. We have bars called The Beaver, and The Racket, and The Up and Up. We have a great combination of adorably dressed women and people who could care less about what they wear out on a Saturday night. We have a decent-sized university that attracts people to the town and keeps some of us here forever.
I am writing this on the last Friday night I will officially live in my town, and though I have evaded all emotion thus far, I finally, expectedly, welcomingly cannot stop crying. My family moved around a lot when I was a kid. Our moves were small — cities that were 20 – 30 minutes apart rather than entire states — but I was raised in an environment where you never got too comfortable. When I moved to my city for college when I was barely 18-years-old, I didn’t plan on staying here. No one really plans on staying here, but those who do understand why. As a person who had never had a true “home,” city-wise or actual house-wise, my city welcomed me in like an old friend. The views are gorgeous, so close to water and mountains and hikes and Seattle just a couple of hours away, or Vancouver, BC even closer. Its draw was its beauty, but it got me to stay by changing my life. I was a kid when I moved here, but I quickly built a life around me. I worked through college and met some of the greatest people I have ever known at that job, particularly a person who has invited me into her family, let her kids consider me some kind of an aunt, literally given me a home, a job, and people to love forever. I have had plenty of jobs here and I have met plenty of people who have changed me and shaped me and helped me grow up. I have met almost every person who means anything to me in this city.
It’s raining right now, and even though we are well into July, it feels so right. My city is a rainy one. It’s beautiful, but it is gray. It is cold and windy and it is dark more often than it is light. Its persona matches mine. Its demeanor is my own.
I have done everything here. I got drunk for the first time here, I have opened my heart and fallen in love here, I have fought here, I have made new lifelong friends here, I have worked all over this city, I have truly connected with the core of the town here. I am very much a part of this city, and it is very much a part of me — indefinitely.
Leaving a town can feel like a breakup — an amicable breakup, but a breakup nonetheless. If my city were my partner, I would remind it that I we are leaving on good terms, that I will visit often, and that I will never forget everything it did for me. Without it, there is no me. To feel that connection with a town is something I never experienced as a young child. I feel forever grateful for Bellingham, Washington.
I’ll be seeing you, subdued city of health, sailboats, bicycles, beer, liberalism, and love. Thank you for having me.
Images via the author.