We were driving on the freeway along a plethora of tall majestic trees. Rain was lightly pattering on the windshield. Cedar was in the back seat squealing because he was eating an apple. Apples make him happy. I mean REALLY happy because its small and round and red and something he can grasp with both chubby hands and it makes sounds when he bites down. Its a beautiful thing for a mom and dad to see their child so gleeful about fruit.
Then we saw the freeway sign. The mileage from here to Vancouver and Bellingham. The idea that we are that close to Canada, my husband's country, felt surreal. We have been waiting for this trip for months. A visit to a place we had never been but had already began to feel like home: Bellingham, Washington.
Months ago, I wrote a Facebook note about what a dream home meant to me. I spoke of oceans, forests, cool weather, my own vegetable garden and fruit trees, clothes on the line that were homemade by me, like minded souls surrounding us, lots of windows with a large porch and a swing, affordable housing, outdoor education, restaurants that cater to our diets. A sweet spirit wrote me a private message. "I live in such a place. You should come visit. Its Bellingham, Washington." I had heard of this place long ago when my friend Letha wanted her and I to go to college there. She knew it was an artsy town surrounded by lush green. It just wasn't the right time for me to go.
So, my husband and I did a lot of research and we kept shaking our heads at how perfect it sounded for us. We are deeply in love with British Columbia and had playfully dreamed of moving to Victoria but what held us back was that it would be stressful for my family to travel there by plane and ferry boat. Everything was perfect except for that...and that was a big thing. So the idea that Bellingham was so so close to both Vancouver and Victoria had such a pull on our hearts. We were quiet about it with the family because we couldn't explain why we felt such a pull when we had never even been to this place. It wouldn't make sense...and it needed to make sense to us too. So we tried to be more practical (which isn't typical for our gypsy souls) and just considered this a "vacation"...a chance to visit B.C. and a cool city.
As we drove into Bellingham, we immediately ended up in downtown Fairhaven. This is where our hotel was. It also happened to be just a few blocks away from my dear friend's house. None of this was planned. It just all fell into place. Fairhaven was where she had said a while ago would be perfect for us. But I had forgotten that.
I took a photo of it with my phone and immediately sent it to my family. My niece Angela wrote back "It is so storybook!" and she is so right. This is how I describe it to people now. Its so darling, so storybook...a bit surreal and too good to be true but it is...true.
Here are some images of downtown fairhaven:
My husband and I have this long list of what we would love our dream town to have and it just seemed the whole time we were there, we were mentally checking off that list. Ocean - check, Forest - check, Charming homes we can afford - check, Good education - check, Clean city - check, Awesome organic produce - check, Gluten free foods available in stores and restaurants - check, Earthy crunchy vibe with a balance of urban coolness - check, Close to Canada - check...check...check. Even down to the wee detail of cafes that serve rice milk (because Boho Boy can't have dairy and soy makes him feel crappy too). Even yerba mate lattes? Are you serious?
the woods coffee house...best coffee and gluten free english muffins! ~ boulevard park, bellingham
Then we saw this young woman, walking near the co-op with her guitar, singing her heart out...oh how my heart swelled with a knowing:
I was immediately sold. Although I know part of that is just my gypsy heart that has been yearning for a move for years now. Living where we are now has been the longest I have ever stayed in one place. I love to experience new places and cultures and am not at all afraid of change. I crave it. So, at this point, I could be like..."cute city? lets move!" and not pay attention to all the other things on our list. But now that we have a child and that this move would mean Boho Boy would be quitting his day job and earning income solely from his database business, we have to be logical and practical and clear. I could tell he loved Bellingham but it wasn't until the fourth day that he looked at me and said..."okay, i love it...lets move here!" with a huge smile and sparkly eyes. He said this after we had spent some time at the local Food Co-op, trailing up and down the aisles and squealing at all the delish foods. We then noticed the store had a little room off to the side with a rocking chair and stacks of toys and a shelf full of children's books with a mini table and chairs. It was a room for mother's to feed their babes and children to play. Cedar crawled into the space and started playing with the toys. These two children, about 9 and 10 years old sat down and started talking with us. Their language was so mature and articulate. They spoke of music and their studies and that they were home schooled. I imagined Cedar having friends like this. Growing up around kids that were in love with nature and chilled out and well spoken and kind. It seemed everyone we met that lived there had rosy cheeks and a kindness that was so very genuine. Many walked by with sincere smiles and one woman yelled across the street..."you're such a beautiful family!", which made us giggle. But really? Who does that? I was just enamored with the local folk.
Then we finally were able to gather with my friend and her rad husband and three gorgeous girls. Being in their creative home and sitting down and eating and sharing stories and laughing at our children tumbling down to the floor hugging one another already felt like we lived there. That we weren't on vacation but just rather popping over for an evening to break bread with good friends. They helped us feel so at home. I had never seen my husband so engaged with another man. It almost made me cry. The thought that he would finally connect with like minded souls and have friends to hang with blew me away. He hasn't connected closely to anyone in a long while and I know he needs this, especially now. I too was giddy that I'd have a mama friend to play with during the day. To walk down to one another's houses and gather for hikes and exploration of sea creatures on the rocky beaches.
marybeth, william, mia, sula and echo...with cedar & boho boy
village books, downtown fairhaven
It's just a dreamy place...and I'll probably tell more stories in posts to come.
On our last morning together, we reveled in what became a morning ritual. Our hotel room had a gorgeous window seat big enough for the three of us overlooking Bellingham Bay. We would take the comforter off of the bed and throw it on the window seat, along with the pillows and snuggle up there with a bottle and our teas and talk and dream about what life would be like there. This last morning we went over a list of all of the "why's" we should move here and it was a long beautiful list...
our window seat in the room...at the chrysalis hotel & spa
What I loved most was that from day one until we left, Cedar had the most adorable rosy cheeks. He looked healthier. He seemed happier. He started standing and walking firmer. That was enough for me to feel deeply connected to this place.