I am a native North-Westerner. I was born in Oregon, raised in Washington. Rain, mountains, lakes; these are things I know and crave. I like living in a state that is not only known for its technology, but also for its fish and agriculture.
I try not to be a Seattleite. Yeah, I work downtown. Yes, I commute and know which streets are one-way and what is located where. But the city life is not for me. I prefer quiet, peaceful, nature-filled locations. I can be quite content with a grocery store being further away if it means all the buildings stop at three stories.
I need three things in my scenery: water, mountains, and trees. This is why I cannot live in the desert. I am told there is a degree of beauty in the desert. I have tried to see it. But when I drove to the Grand Canyon, I was there for about an hour before I turned around and rushed to get home. (In my defense, A: it was my first road trip and B: I had driven through lots of arid terrain to get to that giant cavity.)
In Seattle I can catch little glimpses of the state that I love. Parks abound, and every now and then they offer up views that are free of concrete and glass. I accept the insanity of Seattle because I know there is a great big NW out there.
Such is how I survived Folklife. When I work big events like Folklife, I am surrounded by thousands of people. We handle crowded streets, crying children, and more work than our little establishment can handle. If our store does not make in one day what I take home in five months, it is considered a slow festival. Madness all over the place.
Having worked the craziness multiple times, I was not looking forward to the experience. We had to bring in volunteers from other stores to help us handle the crowds. It usually takes me about three months of studying people before I learn how to work and communicate with them. I take their measure, and after the period of studying, then I interact with them. When they do not know where things are located in our store, it can limit their helpfulness. Both sides generally shrug off the difficulties and do their best.
This year, God wanted to surprise me. Along came a borrowed worker who just clicked with me. Not in the head-over-heels, go make out in the back room-way. Nope, she just made sense to me. She was new to the job, but caught on quickly. It did not take more than a day before I figured out that this person and I would get along fine.
I told her the things I had noticed. I mentioned her how competent she was in a strange environment, her sincerity, and the way she worked in a stressful situation. In no time at all, a person I would never had met if not for Folklife became a candidate for a friend.
I am still learning how to adjust my focus. Sometimes I cannot find a good book because of all the cruddy ones clogging up the shelf. Sometimes I have a hard time realizing that there is an individual who would make my life richer if I can find her in the bustling crowd. And sometimes I can see Mt. Rainier, poking through all the city clutter, reminding me that it is still there.
Ideally, I would take the quality individual to the relaxing setting and escape the city. In the meantime, a glimpse of the better life is usually enough to garner some appreciation from me.