Snohomish After All

After all my arguing, after our admittedly bizarre plan to live in two places–one a small apartment in the city, one an RV in an RV park–we did what made the most sense on every level and looked for a rental in Snohomish. Bill yearned for a yard, some space to call our own. I wanted to be close enough to town to walk there, and also lots of light. Getting as much light as possible is important in the Pacific Northwest, I’d been warned, and I was on board with that plan. Fear of seasonal affective disorder is the only thing that ever made me hesitate about living here.

The Hawthorne alerted us to condos for rent, right in the middle of town, above a health food restaurant called Grilla Bites that we like a lot. We went and looked at one and it was very nice, and surprisingly roomy, with nice fixtures and a gas fireplace and a balcony overlooking First Street. Tempting, but from Bill’s point of view lacking a yard and from my point of view not really a walk into town since it already was in the center of town. Plus it was a little more than we were comfortable paying.

We said maybe and went to Gilpin. Gilpin, a real-estate agency with its office on Avenue D, the artery that runs through both old and new Snohomish, seemed to have its sign outside every rental we’d checked out on our just-getting-a-sense-of-what’s-out-there explorations on previous trips. And so I had gotten it in my head that when we were ready to rent in Snohomish, Gilpin was the place to go.

Devoted readers of this blog may remember that I was at one time determined not to live in Snohomish. Why did I change my mind? For one thing, our tentative plan to live in two places, an RV park and a studio in Seattle turned out to be impractical if only because affordable Seattle studios aren’t plentiful. And once on the ground in Snohomish County I realized more fully why Bill needed to be here–there’s an intense and active community of musicians based around this town. So much so that many members of the community drive long distances several times a week to take part in its gigs and open mics, which really amount to wonderful music sessions with jamming among really proficient musicians. Non-musicians turn up just to listen.

And all these musicians get gigs and the local bars are happy to give them gigs because they know the musician community turns out for each other. And so every place around here has live music, even the pizza parlor where Bill runs an open mic on Wednesday nights. Our friends are here, the housing is affordable, and Bill needs to be in or near Snohomish nearly every night of the week.

And then there’s the fact that Snohomish is old. Coming from the East Coast, especially the oh-so-Colonial Hudson Valley, this is something that you to want and expect, the personality and history of old structures. But old structures are few and far between here in the West. Towns like Mill Creek are beautiful but too new-looking for us. Snohomish is a turn-of-the 20th Century logging town that has carefully preserved its downtown, its historic central neighborhood and many of its old buildings.

And so I who had argued long into the night that I didn’t want to live in Snohomish, that it felt like giving in to the path of least resistance rather than forging our own way, capitulated completely. And not unhappily. Besides the many music venues for Bill to play at, this town has a yoga studio that I like, a great health food restaurant (the aforementioned Grilla Bites), a good Thai place right downtown, Pho (which Bill and I both love now that we live where it’s readily available) and lots of nice places to walk.

And then there’s the name, obviously Native American, seeming more like an adjective than a noun to our English-speaking brains. I love giving my address to people in other places. It’s just so much more intriguing a city name than Lake Stevens or Mill Creek or Lake Forest Park.

Admittedly, it’s farther from Seattle than I wanted. Or thought I wanted. Because I still haven’t entirely figured out what that is.

Image: Erin Kohlenberg via Creative Commons

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