She sat down next to me and her story began to unfold over coffee like gentle, winter rain. I knew it had to be told and stopped typing. Her sincerity opened my heart and my eyes as soft, blue raindrops slid softly down the foggy glass. She moved to the Northwest from the South married with two little ones as a young woman and looking for a better life. Washington held the promise of a better life for her immediate family: husband and two small girls.
They moved to Aberdeen and found a way to exist between limited employment, government commodities, food banks, friends, family, a garden, and doing as much for themselves as they could. The way up was also the way out of Aberdeen. Timber was failing, businesses and mills were closing, and Nirvana was rising.
Their move landed them closer to Olympia, but the rejection she experienced in the small town led to isolation. She found that she was living in a redneck community and being Southern was socially akin to leprosy. This meant no employment opportunities as she had “the wrong number,” or so the anonymous telephone calls said, and even less social opportunities.
Her husband’s new employment provided the family a nice home, a good living, and their lives were quickly approaching ideal until once again, the financial monster reared its ugly head. She returned to work putting in countless hours in a bakery and decided that retraining and a spiritual evaluation was a must. She decided to enter college and prospered. In two years, she found that she wanted to teach English based on her love of literature and writing, and she went on to become an English major with a teaching certificate.
As we sat in Pioneer Square, we talked about favorite books of short stories and poems. Approaching the finish line within the last year, her husband began to drink, began to verbally abuse her, and the end was imminent regardless of her efforts to seek counseling for the couple. Check out also this post about Spring in Seattle.
The divorce took longer than her now teenage daughter wanted. They wanted her to leave much sooner, but student teaching requires college students to not work for the 3 months of student teaching. As soon as her stint as a student teacher ended, she began substitute teaching until a contracted position came along and made the most difficult decision she had ever made in her life at the end of the marriage of which she had hoped would last forever.
He chose the bottle, and she chose education. Now, with the mist gone, and with her children married and ex-husband out of her life, she said she wanted to tell her story that although life had certainly not been without its challenges in the Northwest, she knew that being a struggling woman in the Northwest was better than being a second-class citizen in the South. Tears welled in my eyes. I hope this won’t keep me sleepless, but I guess I’ll be okay.
Her humanity and suffering touched me. She had overcome so much and was able to share the harshness and joys of life in the Pacific Northwest. Life is certainly different for everyone. I admire her courage to face difficulties, to persevere, and to arrive at a point in her life where she is her own master