Friday, September 28, 2012

Life On Island

My new home.  Can you see me?
I have now been living on Orcas Island, or "on island," for two weeks. Rather than saying "on the island" or "off the island," the locals here say "on island" and "off island," because folks on Orcas do not like the word "the."

In many ways, it's a relief to be out of Portland. Here is something I learned during the three years I lived there:  if you love sun and dancing and aren't a fan of excessive facial hair or vintage clothing, then Portland might not be the town for you. And if your answer to the question "Ducks or Beavers?" is "Raiders," then you probably don't belong in Oregon.

I do miss giggling when driving past this place, however.
So far, I am in love with island living and am already lamenting the fact that I will only be here for three months.  Orcas has been very welcoming. On the first night, I saw a shooting star. On the first morning, a river otter ran across my yard. I am also delighted by my encounters with intelligent dog owners. When I tell people here that my dog is aggressive, they reign in their dogs and say, "Thank you so much for telling me," rather than saying, "It's okay!  My dog is really nice!" while allowing their off-leash dog to romp merrily towards my dog. Argh. Idiots. Don't those people realize it's even more upsetting when Libby bites a nice dog in the face? 

It's pretty easy to internalize Orcas' laid back style. Before coming here, I had a hard time staying less than 10 mph above the speed limit. On Orcas, I find myself looking at speed limit signs and thinking, "What's the limit? Okay, 35. How fast am I going? 23. Hmm. Well, 35 just seems excessive."  

My current state of utter seclusion seems to be a great fit.  In general, I find that I have much more benevolent feelings towards humanity when my interactions with actual people are primarily smile- and wave-based.

Isn't it nice just waving and not speaking to one another?
However, I believe there may be some pitfalls to spending too much time by myself, and I have begun compiling a list of Signs You've Perhaps Been Alone Too Long, including:

#1 - You become convinced that Pandora is reading your thoughts and attempting to communicate with you via its song selections. You may also find yourself arguing, out loud, with Pandora (e.g., "It's not my fault I don't like that crappy Nickelback song you chose! Why must you punish me with advertising?!").

#2 - You realize one morning that you've been using the same fork for an entire week. You decide it's time to start using a different fork, and when you look through all the available forks and choose a new one, it gives you a little thrill.

Oooo, perfect!  I can't wait to try it out!
#3 - You begin speaking on behalf of your pets and eventually move to creating intricate dialogues between them.

#4 - You can't remember the last time you had an actual conversation with another person. Was it yesterday? Last week? 2008? Even the sound of your own voice sometimes startles you. When you find yourself in a situation that requires verbal communication, you discover that you have lost the ability to have a cliche conversation. Someone asks, "How are you?" and you answer, "There's a painful blister forming on my heel," or, "I'm having extreme PMS symptoms this month," or, "I'm getting kind of nervous about my financial situation." 

I need one of these as a warning to others
However, in general I am most definitely enjoying this state of prolonged solitude, and one of the many luxuries this experience has granted me is the time to read over my journals from the past fifteen years. Here's a selection of my favorite lines thus far:
  • Last night I only slept long enough to have a dream that I was having insomnia.
  • I wish I could learn from my mistakes before making them.
  • Life is funny sometimes. Not ha-ha funny, but blow-my-head-off funny.
  • I was such a self-righteous little shit as a, and still am. But now I'm right.
And here is my all time favorite quote from Mom, also preserved in one of the journals:

"Try not to kill anyone."



  1. Your first line from the journal entries should be a T-shirt!

  2. Ayyy Mija!! Maybe you'll end up moving to the island. I think Portland is definitely not for me, sounds like the opposite of what I crave! What would I do without the sun, even in SF I feel I need more sun that what we get...! It's all about finding that balance and pace, easier said than done! xoxoxo