Monday, September 10, 2012

Idyll Wild

Everything Old is New Again
It's morning, bright and clear.  Ellensburg, our new and adopted town, is windy, so much so that there is a wind advisory on until tonight.  At 55 degrees, it feels like heaven.  Eleanor is purring to herself on my lap, as I sit with a cup of steaming hot coffee and a blank screen in front of me. This is my favorite way to write, not only because of the cat-coffee-computer arrangement, but because of the setting.

The Cavitt-Mobile
Ellensburg, Washington is the county seat of Kittitas County, incorporated in 1883, containing about 18,000 inhabitants and a small university devoted to teaching and some research.  It is ringed on all sides by hills and to the West, a mountain range which prevents the bulk of the Seattle rain from reaching town.  If you drive 20 miles to the south, you'll see the top of not only Mt. Rainier, but Mt. Adams and Baker too.  For some reason, we are spared not only the heat of Eastern Washington, but the drowning and webbed feet of Seattle.  Central Washington University began here as Washington State Normal School in 1891 as the booby prize for losing the capital seat to Olympia.

Barge Hall at CWU
After weeks of preparation, two households consolidated into a small pull-along trailer and four days of hard travel, we arrived in town with Eleanor and all of our hopes and dreams in a carpetbag on the doorstep of a two-story blue house set in the heart of the city.  And we have not been disappointed.

The house was built, according to the owners, in 1904 and has been renovated into a duplex.  The property management office takes half of the downstairs and our inhabitance takes up the other half of the downstairs and the entirety of the upstairs.  While the walls have been replaced with drywall and paint, and the rugs freshly laid, the wind whistles through and sometimes shakes the entire upstairs, as it is doing now.  There is no air conditioning, and really no need since the climate is such a temperate one.

Our Home
For myself, I have never slept better. Something in me coiled tightly when I left Washington state for Las Vegas back in 1996.  I lived in a third story apartment close to Las Vegas Boulevard in a necessarily gated community with street noise and neon pollution at all sides.  There was no relief even in the suburbs of that town and I only slept well or relaxed all the way when I visited my grandparents in the country in Eastern Washington.  Naturally, I idealized the place and when I moved to Oklahoma in late 1999, I heaved a sigh of relief to not be in Nevada.  Still, if I never go back there it will be too soon.  And after my marriage and divorce, I bought a small house in Norman and put down strong roots.  I have good friends there and many people who I am fortunate to say love me as dearly as I love them.  And nothing was wrong in the world.

No Garbage Disposal, Dishwasher or Counter Space
I moved back to Washington, briefly, in 2008 to look after my grandparents.  Grandpa was 91 and Grandma 11 years younger.  My Great Uncle Vernon was up there too at the age of 88 or 89, and Aunt Sarah pretended that she was still in her 70s.  I did not get on well in Connell, Washington.  The town has only 350 souls, besides the ones in the prison where I taught. While professionally, that stint became the impetus for my doctoral research and dissertation, personally I almost starved to death, living 70 miles and a world away from anyone who cared.  All I had was Eleanor and- thankfully- internet connection.  I made a few friends there, with whom I still have contact: the one who lived there moved away and the other lives in Seattle.  Seattle, 250 miles from Connell, became my haven and the place I would visit for solace and to be around people.  It was 35 miles to the nearest city, and I went twice weekly.  During this time, my Uncle Vernon died, and all hell broke loose in our family.  I became a raw vegan for a time and enjoyed the health benefits, but I had little to do and too much stress and by the time I packed it in, I was down from my usual size 8 - 10 to a size 4. When I told her I was unhappy in Connell, my Grandma put her hand on mine and said "Go home to Oklahoma, where people love you".  When I returned to Oklahoma I was told by more than one person never to leave again.  Grandma visited me once, and then she and Grandpa were gone.

On My New Commute To Work
I worked and threw myself into my studies.  I often had two or three jobs as an adjunct and also took 6-9 hours as a graduate student.  It seems that the more impossible things I ask of myself, the more I can do.  In my time as a doctoral student, I earned only one "B", with the rest being perfect scores.  That includes the six hours I took of graduate statistics one summer.  Then I finally graduated and was down to two jobs.  And I got married and found a fantastic opportunity here in Ellensburg.  Grey gave his consent- I wouldn't move anywhere without him- and even though he had never been to the Northwest before, we went.  Which brings me to now, and cool weather, bright days and quiet streets.

The Newest Washingtonian
We don't need the car much.  I sold my SUV before we left Oklahoma and so we are down to Grey's little Hyundai.  There are produce stands and a Fred Meyer (Kroger) close by, coffee shops in walking distance and a Starbucks and Safeway across the street.  I can walk to work and we walked to several restaurants downtown as well.  There is even a record store nearby that Grey thinks will work to replenish his record supply since we cast so much off when we moved.  And of course, we are less than two hours from Seattle.

Greetings From the Ellensburg Library
And me? I sleep like a rock.  There has been only one murder in the last six years. Most crime is property theft of bicycles and dorm room stuff.  We leave the windows open for the breeze. We even went to church on Sunday (also a short walk) to meet people and to begin joining this community.  I am fond of life here.

I will someday be down to just one job.

You might even say that I will be idle.

Living in an idyllic setting.

But I'm still wild, and still an Okie/Washingtonian.

For An Evening on the Porch
Maybe then, that makes me IdyllWild...


  1. Terrific writing Antoinette. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Tell Greg hi for me.
    Tim McCoy

  2. I agree, terrific writing as always. I'm so glad you and Grey found each other and you are back in your true home state!