When people ask me where "home" is I tell them it is Washington State. For me, that is home. Though my dad was Navy and we moved around and even now with moving every few years, I lived in Washington the longest. My parents still reside there. My family moved to Bremerton when I was about 10 or 11, then I attended college in Ellensburg at age 18/19, and I left the country shortly after turning 20 years old. Just so you know, Bremerton is on a peninsula across Puget Sound from Seattle and Ellensburg is in the smack-dab middle of the state.
Although I do love Washington, I'm not sure I want to live there again. Maybe. We will see what life brings in the future. It's a beautiful place, but the weather can be depressing. The mud and pine needles that track with you everywhere is also annoying. And the perpetual soggy hems on the bottom of pant legs are enough to drive you batty! Yes, you get used to it... but sometimes you're just over it.
Since I have had the opportunity to experience life and other cultures outside of my green Pacific Northwest home there are things I miss. I really could compile a rather long list, but I'll stick with 5 that jump out to me right now.
1. The scenery. Western Washington is gorgeous! The snow capped purple mountains, forests filled with evergreen trees, and the dark blue icy water makes for dream landscape. On those clear days when you can see Mt. Rainier... it doesn't matter if you've just arrived or lived there forever... when the mountain is out it is breathtaking. Add in some orcas that mosey through the area and it seems like God has given us a special gift of beauty to live in.
2. Ferries. Ryan mentioned to me how since we've left the state we have not travelled by ferry at all! That actually surprised me. When you live near the sound, ferries are common. I know things have changed since we left and there are some crappy circumstances with smaller or fewer ferries and such making commutes a headache. But there's something about getting on those boats that is exciting and comforting at the same time. I enjoy going on the decks (when it's not freezing or pouring) and watch the water move, check out the birds, and catch glimpses of the sea lions.
3. Coffee Stands. Oh how I miss the easy accessibility of those drive up stands on all the street corners. You could pass by almost anywhere, swing by and pick up a cup of caffeine. You want to know a secret? Seattle's Best and Starbucks aren't usually the ones with the best coffee... it is the little mom & pop drive thru's near a random gas station. I have tried to explain these little coffee stands to people who have never been to the northwest and they think I'm crazy.
4. Blackberries. The season is probably over or nearing an end back home. Blackberries grow wild almost everywhere it seems. You can pull off the highway and start picking! My parents have bushes in their back yard... many people do in fact. You just go outside with a bucket or bowl and start filling up. Since leaving Washington I have a very hard time paying anywhere from three to six bucks for a 1 cup container of blackberries when I used to be able to get gallons for free. Now when I go home or somebody from home is travelling to me I always request them to bring me a couple bags of frozen blackberries my mom keeps in the freezer so I can make pie! And side note: same thing goes for Rainier cherries.
5. Casual comfort of layering. Say what? Layers! Especially in all seasons that are not summer, people back home dress in layers. For the most part we aren't into style and fashion like other major cities. Of course you'll find people dressed in their business clothes with fancy coats and dapper scarves, but mostly you find people in beanies, sweatshirts, hoodies, flannel, jackets, heavy coats, and boots or sneakers. I still find myself most comfortable in that attire. Will it be clear out? Drizzly? Windy? We dress according to what the weather may be for the day (not really what it is at the moment) because, chances are... you're going to get wet and you will get cold. Oh, and it's true what they say: REAL Washingtonians don't use umbrellas.