Here's something that makes Haines feel like home more than any other place.
Haines is the only place in the world where I've got friends I can hang out with and do just about nothing with without any pre-planning arrangements.
Not sure if that makes sense.
I know mundane has negative connotations - but when I use it to describe a friendship, I intend to indicate the sort of times where nothing exciting has to or is happening. It's the golden moments of just hanging out without an occasion. It's sitting on their couch reading a book while they get something else done and a rambling conversation intersects it all.
In Haines, I've got a collection of houses that I can go to at just about any hour to simply hang out and exist and relish the joy of being around other folks. I can show up with a book and read by their fire, hang out, stay for a meal, play with their kids, and enjoy being in a home.
I don't have that in Seattle, at all. I can't think of any home (beyond my parents) where I can just go to "hang out" without calling first. There's no place where I can show up and exist for hours without an invitation.
Seattle is full of schedules and agendas. It's deadlines.
For me to see a friend in Seattle, I frequently have to plan days in advance around every other event.
Now, part of that, I know, is because I'm rarely there and am packing so many activities into each day.
But it feels like a game of Tetris, trying to make everything happen.
Here, I get to relish the community that's here because, chances are, there isn't really anything to do at any given moment. There are "things to do," but nothing to ferocious or nightly. There aren't weekly commitments beyond women's choir and bell choir (for which I perpetually substitute, since I'm not available for any of the performances but can make it to every practice).
In Seattle, I never feel like I get beyond catching up with people. I think this is the point where some would interject, "But you never stay in Seattle long enough.."
I was in Seattle for over a decade. I know Seattle. I've been in Seattle.
I've never had that friend you can just hang out with at any hour there.
You know those folks where you can knock on their door right before bed because you realize "being social" sounds like a good idea? And all they seem is thrilled to see you.
In Haines, I do.
For me, one of the joys of friends is that when you get stuck in your head, you can call on them and they'll be with you. They don't say, "How about next Tuesday at four." I mean, friends can say, "Next Tuesday at four," but by that point, the moment is finished and pass.
I love that all I have to do is put on my raincoat and show up. In Seattle, it's not just a stroll across town - it's two busses a few maps and maybe a bike ride.
I value my Seattle friends - I truly do. They mean a lot to me and I love them so much and know they love me - this isn't to diminish that.
But Seattle, with it's bus schedules and distances, can't do for me what Haines does.
Seattle has its purpose. There are a lot of beautiful friends there I value, but, for now, Seattle feels like a quick stopping point - a vacation - and Haines feels like home.