After running errands all day in the ever-expanding Seattle and restocking my gallery show at Venue, driving off of the boat onto the island is always a breath of fresh air.
I follow the main “highway,” winding beneath a forest canopy, green leaves rustling in the wind. There are no sidewalks here, only ferns and grass growing wildly alongside the road. I drive by family farm stands offering fresh-cut flowers and eggs. Time is on my side, so I head towards my favorite detour that parallels the rocky beachside, with sneak peek views of iconic Mount Rainier, eventually arriving at my parent's property nestled on a hill amongst the trees. In the summertime, this place is paradise.
Every time I return here, a lifetime of memories flood back. I spent my childhood here. Building forts in the woods, going to nature summer camp. Living in two households after my parent's divorce. Playing with my baby brother as a preteen. My teen years of that first love, best friends, cheerleading, and sneaking out to parties. I used to dream about what life was like on the other side of the water. Here on the island, life felt small, and I dreamed of experiencing the big bad world.
After a few years out in the world, it broke me. I spent my recovery here…Confined to a clamshell brace after breaking my back mountain biking. I hobbled around the house and stayed sane by painting in the corner of my parent's living room. Not a year later, I was broken again and forced to return to the island. This time with an injured foot.
Painting daily, I started my art career from the corner of my parent's living room. I worked at a local restaurant, finished my bachelor's degree remotely from my childhood room, and spent late nights at the beach, dreaming of the day I'd become a real “artist." Like a bird leaving a nest, for the second time, I moved away from the island to follow my dream.
To only return a few years later, this time with my partner, Kory, and live in a magical dry cabin while building our businesses. I spent afternoons painting on the back deck above the ravine. We adopted our dog, Arrow, here. We went for long walks in the woods and on the beach. Eventually, we outgrew the cabin and moved away again, off the island. This time, maybe for good.
But no matter how much time passes or how far I travel, whenever I return I say "hello" to all the versions of my younger self. Sure, the island felt small at times, but in my life I've learned that limitations are actually what force me to expand. This place will always have my heart. It's my origin story.