You know what? I've complained heaps and tons about Bellingham, about how I've been here forever, about how I'm going to die here, and about how all these crazy yuppie developers are taking over my town and turning it into yuppie/retiree city. Yes. These complaints are not particularly related, I know. But still. Sometimes I get feisty, and when I do, I don't necessarily check my facts.
Lately, though, I notice I've been developing a certain fondness for Bellingham-as-she-is--not Bellingham, "my hometown," or Bellingham, "that place I've lived since the beginning of time"--and I'm learning not to take this lovely town, sandwiched elegantly between the water and the mountains, for granted.
Mostly, the spectacular music scene has brought this to my attention, and the fact that, for every venue/store that closes (Smash Your Guitar, Viva La Vinyl, the 3B, The Factory), another good one opens (Acoustic Tavern, Chiribin's, the Nightlight)--and by the other fact that, for all my bitching about Cellophane morphing into Everyday Music, I was just humbled by the discovery that Everyday Music has this fantastic Local Music section, chock full of bands you know and love and have seen at the Wild Buffalo, or have never heard of and can't possibly imagine being interested in (who knew Bellingham had its very own white rapper?).
There are Mondays at Boundary Bay with the Gallus Brothers. Perpetual Open Mic at the Acoustic Tavern. Pretty big-name bands at the Nightlight, and little local nobodies at Fantasia, where they lend floorspace to artists just starting out. I am presently taken with The Tanglers (how does one describe their music? Accordian, banjo, bass--that's the best I can do. Haunting) and Pirates R Us ("songs of modern piracy").
Even the development doesn't seem quite so bad. Fairhaven looks different, sure but reduced view of the bay and all, I have to admit that it looks gorgeous. Even the new Starbucks on Railroad lends an interesting element to the downtown atmosphere. There's no excuse, still, for the monstrosity they're turning the Bellingham Inn into (an improvment, perhaps, but an ugly one), but the Farmer's Market, even with the coming structure running behind schedule, looks great this year. Big. Organized. Big. Overwhelming, for all five senses.
Mitch has also brought it to my attention recently that I'd probably die of loneliness if we moved somewhere where I didn't know the name of one third of the people I encounter on a daily basis--the kind folks who pour my coffee, refill my wine, recommend books for me--and where I didn't stand the chance of running into somebody I know every time I leave the house.
This used to terrify me--the small talk that so often ensues whenever somebody taps my shoulder at the Newsstand and says my name in that distinct tone of surprise--but I've met so many stellar people in the past year or so that more often than not, I'm happy to stop and chat. Undoubtedly, somebody will say something interesting and the conversation will evolve into an exchange worth pursuing, rather than follow the "haven't seen you in years" formula:
Person 1: So...what've you been up to?
Person 2: Oh, you know, um--not much. Working [or school]. You?
Person 1: The same.
and so on.
All this I was realizing yesterday, as I wandered aimlessly around downtown on foot, drinking far too much coffee in far too many coffeeshops, and I admit that the sunlight probably had an awful lot to do with my gracious mood. But really, I do love it here, and I think I'm learning that Bellingham will be what it will be. It's a town, after all, and it cannot cater solely to me.