The Northwest Vibe

Ed note: This was written in 2011, and now in 2019 is still rings true.

Okay, before I start hearing choruses of “We’ve heard this” “It’s not always about Nirvana” and other comments, let me just say this: this ain’t your Entertainment Tonight version of the vibe. Shall we continue?

I’ll be the first one to admit it, when we first moved out here and I could wear my flannel and vests and not feel like an outcast, I was one happy camper. I felt at home here. For one thing, people looked like me! Longish hair, beards, jeans and flannel shirts. Christ, this was me going back to grade school! And yeah, I had a beard in 3rd grade. Sue me. Bottom line, I felt like I belonged, and I was one happy flannel covered camper.

As time as moved on though, I’ve come to realize that the whole flannel thing is just a small part of the whole. We, and let me clarify something here. I’ve only lived out here for 4 years now, so I use the “we” terminology very loosely. But to be honest, I feel like I’ve always been here. Maybe in spirit only, but I feel at home here, more than any other physical location I’ve been. So any local who may read this, please allow me the use of “we”, okay? Now, let me continue. “We” are much more than just flannel, Nirvana and coffee. We are a deep seeded vibe. We are a way of being. A way of understanding. We are, to use an oft quoted phrase, a way of life. Let me explain.

People ask me why we are so crazy for coffee here. Right-coasters usually say it’s because we need the caffeine to get through the gray, but I think it’s something different. We like coffee because we love coffee houses. We love the human interaction of ordering a triple shot 16 latte, and the closeness we feel when asking to share a table. We are a hardy breed up here, but we are that way because of the other people around us. We get through the long dark gray because we all go through it. We share the pain, and the joy. Hell, we share, period.

We also care for animals here more than any other place I’ve ever lived. There is an alliance with our fellow beings that is so strong, that we cringe when a bear has to be put to sleep after mauling someone. We understand that need to survive. We also understand that all of us, bare skinned and furred, are just trying to get by. All of us here dig that, and we try to nurture that feeling in others with the hope that maybe others will dig it too.

Friends. I’ve been one lucky mother you-know-what in my life when it comes to friends. Where ever I have gone, I’ve made friends. From my bro Dave in Ohio, to Merv and Cherre in Florida, I’ve been blessed with very good friends. Out here I’ve met friends as well, and maybe its due to the shorter sunlight, or the cold, or the gray, but man, the friends I’ve met here have become rock solid in a very short amount of time. Take my bro Kelly for example. I can’t imagine not knowing this dude. It is like I’ve known him my whole life. Unreal. Like I said folks, it’s a vibe. I also have a bro out here from my old CompuServe days. William and I struck a cord back in Ohio. Sort of a weird kind of, “Are you my lost brother” cord. To this day, I’m convinced karma brought me out here because of him. I don’t get to see him a lot, but I feel like I’m more connected to him now than ever.

Finally, I have an acquaintance who is recovering from a horrific accident. Most people thought he would never walk again, let alone ride his scoot. To this individual that concept of giving up was never an option. He spit in those faces of doubt and is doing just great. Now that alone would be a story, but it gets better. Through it all, his girlfriend, you heard me right, girlfriend not wife, has stood by this man every step of the way. Not letting him give up, she has been there through every step. Literally ever step. Nothing legal forces her to do this, she is not bound by any parchment, no sir. She does this because she is bound to by who she is. 5th generation born in the Northwest, she understands the value of love over legal documents. She feels the calling of carrying for a loved one. She is strong, independent, and yet she knows the value of having another human by your side. She exemplifies “Northwest Proud”.

Northwest vibe. We drink coffee. We eat salmon. We love our animals. We care for our trees. We may seem a little flaky at times, but we mean well. I love this part of our country, and I’m proud to be a part of it.


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