I often get asked why I chose to move to Washington state. I moved here because of a novel I read. Yes, you read that right, a good old romance novel that I had picked up at the library about two years prior to my move. I call it happenstance, some people would call it fate.
The book is part of a four part series that plays right here on this wonderful island. The author describes this place so absolutely perfect, she made me go and google it. I needed to know if this place really exists and I was thrilled to find out that indeed it does. So I went ahead and added the island to my bucket list.
In 2013 standing on top of Parícutin, a volcano in the Mexican state of Michoacan, it became clear to me that I needed to get out of the big city, back to nature, even if it would be just for a little while. A friend of mine suggested that I apply with the National Park Service for a summer somewhere else. And so I did! I applied to four different parks, one in Maine, one in Virginia, one in Wyoming and one in Oregon. But the Universe had other plans and I didn’t get accepted into any of them.
I had already given notice to my job and told my landlady that I was going to move out. I didn’t quite know where to go from here and honestly started to panic a bit. And then I saw a news piece about this island on TV, a couple of days later I overheard a conversation about it at a coffee shop. And then I shipped packages to the island three days in a row. I was a shipping clerk at a warehouse for an online store at the time. And one of the packages I sent was an order for a woman here that is now like a big sister to me! I didn’t know at the time either.
I finally got the message the Universe was sending and started to look for summer jobs up here. As it so happens, this place is really happening in the summer and lots of places are hiring seasonal help. I got lucky and had a job offer within a few days. They even offered housing, however, did not allow pets. My dog was a big part of my decision to move, I wanted her to experience what being a dog really means, something that is simply not possible in a big city. Leaving her behind was simply not an option. The employer gave me three weeks to find alternative housing.
Turns out, housing is really hard to find here on the island, it is a bit of a problem. I didn’t find anything in that three week period and they gave the job to someone else. I felt very discouraged and started questioning everything. I had put up an ad in a local newspaper, that I was trying to find a place to stay and I contacted the paper to have it taken down. Fate would have it that they didn’t do that right away and a couple of days later I got an email from A., offering me a tiny tear drop trailer for the summer. I accepted the living arrangement sight unseen on a whim.
I kept checking the job boards and send my resume in to a couple of other places. A moped rental place got back to me and we set up an interview. I packed up all my stuff in Los Angeles, filled my car with the essentials, put the rest in storage and Lola and I took off on a road trip up the coast. Two days after my arrival on the island I had gotten the job with the moped rental and I had already fallen madly in love with this magical place. Just the thought of leaving after five months made me feel sad.
When the time came closer to say goodbye I still didn’t have a clue to where I was going to go next. Turned out it would be Switzerland for a few months, my Mom had lost her fight against cancer. In one of my last conversations I had with my mom via Skype before she got too sick, I was telling her that I didn’t know what to do next. She just smiled and told me that there was an easy fix to my problem. I could simply stay on the island. It was such a simple solution that it took me by surprise. I was so pre-occupied with my next steps that I didn’t even consider that I could just stay! She also told me that she had never seen me happier in any other place.
So I came back here after Switzerland and that is where I have been since. Things weren’t easy in the beginning and I almost gave up. It was challenging to find work over the winter and the housing situation turned out to be even worse. But eventually all the pieces came together and I made my way.
My dog Lola passed away one year into our adventure from acute liver failure. It was very unexpected and I still grapple with her passing. I was hoping she would have a long happy life as an island dog. I am glad that she at least got one year to be completely herself and free to go in and out of the house, bark if she wanted to and go for off leash walks every day. She got to be a real dog for a while. One of the biggest gifts I could give her.
So there you have it. My story on how I came to move to Washington state!