I am a good speller. I can read a written word and know whether it’s spelled correctly or not (even if I don’t know exactly how to spell it). Spelling is an art form to me—a carefully balanced puzzle with letters dancing in order and harmony. So when the arrangement of letters is thrown off-kilter, it really bugs me. I try very hard to use proper grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling. If you notice any errors in my writing, I meant to do that.
Misspelling can lead to weird pronunciation, misunderstandings, confusion or serendipity. That’s how we ended up living on Camaro Island. We moved to Redmond, Washington from Kalispell, Montana in 1987. Even spelled correctly, Redmond was a mystery for many of our family and friends back home. We tried explaining that Redmond was near Bellevue and Kirkland.
Then, we tried the “east of Seattle, across the floating bridge” description.
~more blank looks~
We’d get out the maps and Thomas Guide and point out exactly where our new home was (in the midst of the newly emerging Microsoft Land) and finally would just say we lived in the Seattle area.
Perusing the maps, I eagerly sought new places and towns to explore with our three sons who were ages 3, 7 and 9 at the time. Canada was a short drive north (and no passports required in the ‘80s). The San Juan Islands seemed so remote and intriguing. Whidbey Island looked like a great first adventure. While plotting the journey and figuring out the ferry schedule, I discovered Camaro Island.
It was a sign!
In 1973, I bought my first car. $2000 cash got me a 1969 Camaro—baby blue with pinstripes. She was the love of my life. Then, Kevin and I decided to get married. To help with our wedding and “getting started” money, I sold my dream car to my sister. I didn’t feel bad since I would be driving Kevin’s brand spankin’ new Datsun 240Z. Oh, yeah. But that sporty, quick, groovy Camaro always held a special spot in my heart. (The first one always does, right?)
I soon realized that the name of my future home was actually Camano Island, but that didn’t deter me. Even in 1986, I knew we would someday live there—without having stepped foot on Camano’s sacred shores. Years passed and along the way several other names were butchered in spelling and pronunciation:
Came Brian (Cambrian)
See Quim (Squim)
Poolyup, Pully Up, Poo Wallop (Puyallup!)
In the summer of 2002, Kevin and I finally visited Camano Island. We stopped by a charming arts festival, Art by the Bay. We plunked our kayaks into the salt water at the State Park. We drove completely around the island and stopped at the realtor’s office before heading back to the east side of Seattle. The next day, I gave my one-year notice at work. We returned to the realtor’s in April 2003. All we asked for was a comfortable house near the water with a view of the mountains. That July, one year after our first visit, we moved into our west side home, overlooking Saratoga Passage toward Whidbey Island.
I took approximately 10 bajillion photos of gorgeous sunsets that year. Sending them out, I wrote on the backs of the pictures a description of our new location: an island, north of Seattle. Most of our family and friends are familiar with the area, but some wonder why we would live in such a remote, unknown area. (Hello!) We’ve offered our pals the opportunity to visit us anytime. There’s plenty of room, cold beverages in the fridge, and time to relax. Just make sure your passports are up to date. It’s easy to get here.
You don’t even need a fairy.