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The Tacoma in the Book

I am from Tacoma, which is in the Pacific Northwest, an area people always say is beautiful and where, when I grew up there, it would often rain for two and three and four weeks at a time.

In everywhere else I’ve lived, people get worn out by rain in a matter of hours. In Tacoma, in all the Pacific Northwest, you gauge it in weeks. Or months.

In Alaska, where my brother lived with my dad for a number of years, he went to school in the dark, came home in the dark. For months. There was snow in that part of Alaska, and lots of ice. But mostly, for many months, it was dark and it only rained.

All this relates to the new book, Something Pretty, Something Beautiful, in some tangential way. Re-reading the book a few times lately, I see references I wrote to scenes in Tacoma where it is raining.

But in my mind, in the Tacoma of Something Pretty, Something Beautiful, it is always raining, or always about to rain, or it has always just rained, the streets and trees and roofs of houses all damp, still dripping with a rain that has lasted days or weeks.

That Tacoma, the one in the book, is not necessarily the real Tacoma. A place so violent and aimless. So devoid of anything good.

But the rain, that part is true.

I miss the rain sometimes. When it rains now, and the people around me talk about how tired or depressed or worn out the rain makes them feel, for me I feel oddly bright. Reminded of a time when I lived in the rain. Reminded of a place that surprises me every time I return, dark and unexpectedly beautiful in how it is carved out of a space between the bay and mountains, dotted with homes built into steep hillsides and overlooking a vast, sprawling port that I find beautiful also. I really do.

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