Finding The Present

Three days after returning home my brain is still fuzzy. Jet lagged. My circadian rhythm not quite normal following my trip to Seattle. Even in my youth I did not travel well. At this age it is even worse. With all that, if I could afford to buy a place on Vashon Island for the summer and live in my South Carolina home in the winter, I would do it. Oh, I wouldn’t want to live in Seattle, but the island where my host lives is a different story.

My view from Vashon Island

My view from Vashon Island

Vashon hasn’t changed much from when I lived in Seattle thirty years ago. Still a tiny farm community sitting in Puget Sound, the only way to get there is by sea. The ferry takes a scant twenty minutes, transporting me from the busy, noisy area of West Seattle to the quiet hills and beaches of Vashon where eagles soar, osprey hunt, otters and seal frolic in the cold water and with luck, a few Dungeness crabs can be caught for dinner.

As I wrote in an earlier post I returned to Seattle to reconnect with my past self. Searching for my authentic self under the layers of identities assumed during a lifetime, I sought the emotional remembrance of who I was then. That person is gone, however, never to be retrieved, only remembered and celebrated with longtime friends. While our lives intertwined for a moment, and in many ways we remain the same, all of us have grown and changed. We enjoy a camaraderie built on shared memories.

I flew into SeaTac with the idea of visiting my former home, old workplace and other familiar haunts. My friend’s spouse picked me up at the frenetic airport. Driving through the streets of West Seattle to the ferry, we chatted about my flight and visit. Then, we slipped onto the ferry. By the time we disembarked onto Vashon Island, I knew I didn’t want to see any of the past places, only the people.

The entrance to Pike Place Market

The entrance to Pike Place Market

Idyllic Vashon reminds me of where I live now, a country life by choice. It also speaks to me of who I am now, my authentic self, with longtime friends enriching my life. And, hopefully, I enrich theirs. Our youthful shared experiences brought us together. It is the glue that holds us in sync, in time.

My host and I drove into Seattle just once. After all, I did have to see the teeming Pike Place Market. There at Cutters restaurant we met with other friends.  We talked about the past and the present and the future.  We caught up on our lives — work, spouses, children, dreams.  We clinked glasses in a ‘Salute’.  And I know now, it is they, not the place, holding the emotional sway.

In the end, the person I found on this excursion is my present self, the only self that matters now.

10 comments on “Finding The Present

  1. So happy you had a great trip to Seattle and Vashon Island! I lived in Seattle (Bellevue suburb) until I was 15 and spent many happy summers at Camp Sealth where I learned to backpack, canoe and sail — wonderful activities that I still enjoy today. Your article brought back so many wonderful memories, Now if I can just get the Camp Sealth song out of my head – after all these years, I still remember the words,.. HaHa! Guess I’ll enjoy it for now:

    We’re out at Camp Sealth,
    The camp of our dreams,
    Where the ocean just ripples and sparkles and gleams.
    Oh, come out and join us,
    For we are never blue.
    Be a member of our happy laughing crew, you too.

    At night round our camp fire
    We laugh and we sing,
    Give a cheer for Camp Sealth that’ll make the echoes ring.
    We’ll cheer for our leaders, our counselors good scouts too –
    We’ll cheer for you and you and you, we do.


  2. I want to move, to downsize and streamline. It is fun to fantasize about a new place and lifestyle, but I am having difficulty choosing between my hometown, a midsize city, and a village on a lake 30 miles away. Elderly parents have narrowed our search. Do you have any hints for deciding.


    • Hi Joy, When it comes to big decisions, I have a number of things I do to help make them. (1) I like to make informed decisions so I gather as much information as I can; (2) I try to keep an open mind — I don’t know what I don’t know. There could be alternatives that never crossed my mind; (3) That said, I try to think outside the box; (4) I make my pros and cons list; and (5) I listen to my gut — does it feel right or do I have some hesitation? Moving to a new place and adopting a new lifestyle is a HUGE change. If possible, try it on for size first by visiting the place a few times. It may not be what you fantasize it to be. Also, look at where you are presently. Are there things you could change about your current place and lifestyle that would jazz things up a bit? Good luck to you! I hope this helps.


  3. Welcome home, Kathy, and best wishes for getting your full energy back very soon. I really identify with your “don’t travel well” comment. I don’t travel well either, and was evidently born to pretty much stay in one place. Although I love BEING other places, the trips to get there and back totally drain me. Nevertheless, during my younger traveling days I did make it to Vashon Island once and agree it’s a unique and beautiful place. That being said, my favorite part of traveling always is . . . coming home again!


  4. After a long career in state government in a high level position, I made the mistake of retiring from something instead of to something. My job was my identity and passion. After one year I took another full-time job, but it is bottom of the rung–I am a minion, not the leader. I hate it and am boired, but if I quit, then what to do. Not a hobby guy or a volunteer guy. Anyone have suggestions for enjoying retirement just relaxing. Also, my wife still works full time. Feeling lost and regretful that I retired. Really miss my government job.


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