What place do you call home?
Where do you live…what place do you call home? For many of us these two questions may demand entirely separate answers. That’s certainly the case for me. It has been thirty seven years just this month that I pulled up my affairs by the roots and as the saying goes, went West. For a long time I would answer the next question, why did you do that?, with what I hoped would pass for an offhand shrug and some remark about new places and new challenges.
If you have read I Promised You Daisies, you know better. For the better part of those thirty seven years I was uncomfortable, at the very least, with the idea of confiding the details of the experiences back East that convinced me I ought to leave town. None of it was easy, and I guess I admitted to myself right away that staying here wasn’t going to be all that comfortable, either. Everything I have say in A Gift of Dreams about the part of New England I left behind is as true now as it was then, and if you ask me now, at the age of sixty-something, where are you from?, I’ll answer, a little town near Boston.
It was not easy to let myself believe that I ought not to blame the Pacific Northwest, western Washington, and the lower reaches of Puget Sound for not being Essex, Massachusetts or maybe the southern coast of Maine. It didn’t help that many of the things that happened to me during my first few years in this part of the world were even more depressing than those I had just left behind. That part inspired the opening chapters of third book of the Imperfectly Ordinary trilogy, Side Door to Heaven, on which I am working right now. As readers of the first two books you are most welcome to guess how the third will turn out. I may drop a hint from time to time, but I’m not telling!
As it turns out this is not such a bad place. We live on a semi-rural half acre near Olympia, Washington, where I can look out the windows of my little office and see nothing but newly-green trees, the preposterously bright rhodedendron blooms of late spring, and the occasional deer crossing the lawn looking for something to eat. There are other houses close at hand, but you can’t see them from here, and we like it that way. It would not be at all difficult to argue that this is a fine place for a grown-up gifted kid to find himself, and for a writer to work at telling the story of how it all came to be.