November 10, 2004

Leaving Idaho in the broad daylight

I've left Idaho a few times before, but never have I done it when it looked so right.
 Posted by Hello

Reflecting on the years since I've been back in Idaho, including the electoral event last Tuesday, and thinking on my long tormented relationship with home, I found this fine older article on Orcinus by David Neiwart, another Idahoan relocated to the Puget Sound. It begins:

"There's one thing about growing up in a place like Idaho: If you can't make friends with conservatives, you won't have many friends..."

As it goes on to make its point, I think, Well, I've made some friends! I told my wife the other night that I have a love-hate relationship with Idaho, and she came back with, "you don't love it!" She and my boy are the Idaho natives of the family; I had the bad fortune not to be brought to Idaho until I was almost 2, after being born in (horrors) Marin County, California, a fact that no true Idahoan will ever let me live down.

So let me go on record: I love my home state. I love the Sawtooths and the foothills. I love the way sagebrush in the desert smells after it rains. I love the horizons, the dirt roads, and the drives that are measured in hours, not miles. I love the stinky geothermal water that fills the hot springs and the radiators of the house where I grew up. I love the miles and miles of open range and public property, and all the critters therein. I love Redfish and the Salmon, so much that I've left instructions to dump my ashes there, so my molecules can make the grand tour from Stanley to the sea.
 Posted by Hello

Proud enough? Yet I'm moving the family to a Blue state. Loving my home, it makes me more blue, not less, that Idaho and I need to spend some time apart, but I think we might have irreconcilable differences. Doesn't mean I don't love it. I suppose I'm trading colleagues who read Ann Coulter's Treason and look at me funny, for colleagues who learn I'm from Idaho and look at me funny. At the same time as I'll miss Idaho, I'm really excited to be moving to Olympia, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are cloudy all day.

I may have been ruined for the current style of play by the old Idaho legislature, of all things. Back when I was a page, and later an intern, I watched the senators address each other as "the gentleman from 12" and "the lady from 32," even if 12 was no gentleman and 32 was no lady. The R's still called my team the "Democrat Party," but otherwise respect was paid, and friendships were maintained across the aisle. I owe my Idaho upbringing the habits of not whining when we lose or gloating when we win, of not expecting everyone to see things my way, of knowing that decent people will disagree, and of not vilifying opponents. I wish I could say that I'm confident my five-year-old would absorb the same lessons by growing up in Idaho as it is now, but I can't. But he will come back to spend lots of time here, and he will learn to appreciate and be proud of where he's from.
 Posted by Hello

(Bonus shout-out to colleagues in the South: after my wife pointed me to a scurrilous little website called "F*ck the South" (find it yourself), I thought back to the Southern spots that I love: Apalachicola, St. George Island, Panacea and Sopchoppy, Tally and P'cola, N.O., Memphis, Williamsburg, Peachtree City with the goofy golfcarts, Macon where I spent the two most formative weeks of my career. And I thought of my Southern colleagues in the p.d. and crim law realms, white and black, to whom I feel closer than to most East Coast and L.A. lawyers. Like the man said, "I say this to all of you who think it's funny and wise to say "f*ck the South." If you f*ck the South, you're f*cking yourselves." )

3 Comments:

Melissa said...

aww thanks for posting that! A guy named Neal wrote F!ck the South! But anyway.,

phil said...

WIsh you and your family the best in your new digs! Got room in your trunk? I want out of this right-wing haven called Idaho ;)

Deb said...

Welcome to Washington! We are happy to have you here. I know how it feels to be surrounded by reds. Although I live in blue WA I work in a totally red office. It's not good for my blood pressure, but I am diligently working on getting out of there.