“22 years and I just found the spot you were saving for me / Thanks for keeping it secret so I don’t have to share / The rock is still a little warm, so I’m going to sit here a …
“22 years and I just found the spot you were saving for me / Thanks for keeping it secret so I don’t have to share / The rock is still a little warm, so I’m going to sit here a little while / And tell you all the things I’ve been meaning to / I’m sorry I ever put you down / Degraded, downgraded / Complained about you to my friends / I’ve been frustrated and I’ve taken you for granted / I’ve always understood you, but that doesn’t mean I’ve respected you / I was with someone else for half a year, and I tried to become someone I wasn’t so they’d like me / But erasing 18 years doesn’t come easy / I’m infused with you / You made me who I am / And I am proud to be of you / I will try to pay it back, make you proud that I am of you / I think it’s the least I could do / A small gift in return for the life you’ve given me.”
I hate writing poetry. I also, on most days, would rather stick myself in the eye with a fork than share it with anyone. However, a new friend of mine — a phenomenal poet and even more phenomenal person — recently inspired me. So here I am, testing it out on all of you. YOLO, I guess.
If you didn’t catch it, that poem up there? It’s a letter to Port Townsend. An apology, a declaration of love…I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that three years ago, a hot-shot baby reporter shook the dust of her “crummy little town” off her feet and headed to the big city, only to come crawling back six months later ailing of embarrassment, bitterness, and COVID-19.
She stayed. She was angry, but she stayed.
And then one day, she wasn’t angry anymore. Resentment of Port Townsend’s seclusion became peace in the refuge. Annoyance at certain characters became affection for the quirky, the art, the ineffable qualities that she has yet to find anywhere else. She saw every deer, seagull, trolley bus, busker, childhood memory with new eyes, and it was no longer her crummy little town, it was simply her little town. And then it was just “her.”
So she got a job at the paper. What better way, she thought, to give back to the community that shaped her?
I want to speak to the locals — the young ones. Thank you for having passion, courage, conviction. Watching you take part in civics makes my heart soar, it really does; high schoolers weighing in on the golf course debate. Middle schoolers painting murals. Kindergartners planting gardens. All of you, making so. Much. Art. It all matters more than you realize.
Shake the dust off, or don’t. But if you do go, hold onto this corner of your soul made of deer, seagulls, trolley buses, and buskers. If you ever come back one day, go to your own secret spot — because I know you have one — and please write the poetry that springs out of that corner. Then, maybe, put it in The Leader.
Anna Tallarico, interim editor