Winter, the dark time, cometh.
My past two island winters were both tough and very fruitful. In the first winter I slowed down for the first time in my adult life. I worked part time in the local food co-op and the Doe Bay café. I did a lot of reading and writing. I hiked in the rain and snow with a small cadre of winter friends. I actually didn’t mind the rain, after more than 10 years of living in California drought. I barely paid my expenses each month. I was lonely, though oddly, less lonely than I was in Oakland, a city of 500,000 people.
The second winter I took several months off and started my apparel business, Standard Rainbow. Six days a week I drove from my little cabin in the woods to my “office” in the public library. I struggled with productivity, with procrastination. Most of my friends were gone that winter. I went on solo hikes most days. I was lonely.
When Trump was elected, on the eve of my first Orcas winter, I felt the first pang of homesickness for “civilization” (eg, the Mainland.) I had a sudden urge to
a) make art
b) live in a city
c) join the fight
That desire to return to civilization, to the frenetic energy of city life, has continued to grow in me. Yet I have lingered, now for almost two years. Lingering is a thing I do. But also, Orcas has a powerful gravitational field.
I believe Orcas Island is most effective as a place to heal and recharge. I’ve seen many of my friends benefit from the rejuvenating power of this little island. I was just chatting with a friend a few days ago and she remarked on how much I have changed, how much more positive my outlook has become since I moved here.
I am definitely 50% less crazy than I was two and a half years ago. That being said I continue to struggle with old baggage, with anxiety, depression, and perfectionism. I also continue to be financially underwater. Making a living here continues to be difficult for me and almost everyone I know.
I have been inspired by the activist energy of the Orcas community. I know more people on local boards, more people in political groups, than I have in any other place I’ve lived.
But it does feel like a bubble here. It does feel homogeneous (white). It does feel remote. To some degree, I feel like I’m sitting out the momentous events on the mainland (and around the world).
So I am ready to return, ready to dive back in. I want to join, help, & fight. I want to create work that speaks to my values and to the present cultural moment.
I am looking for a creative powerhouse of a city. One that I can afford to live in (sorry, NYC). Currently on my list: Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta.
If you know a creative type in one of these cities, I would love to talk to them. And if you think I should add (or subtract) a city from my list, let me know.
Evan Wagoner-Lynch is sponsored by Standard Rainbow