Only on Vashon- The Weekly Rundown 5/6/2022

We are given this prompt:  “When you go off island, what are some of the things you immediately notice about the differences of day-to-day off island life? What contrasts/stands out as being uniquely Vashon?”

For one thing,  nobody off island waves. Here, we all wave as we pass each other by. We stop and talk in Thriftway, blocking the aisles with our carts. 

We all agree that the pace of life on island is slower, except for that one Tesla trying to make the ferry, but we’ll get to that later.

But off island, there’s a greater diversity of food choices, such as Taco Bell.

Off island is a magical land of low gas prices and BigMacs, but it comes with drawbacks. There’s traffic and trash by the side of the road. One islander notes that driving off island involves sirens, trash and graffiti, whereas on island driving has rainbows and eagles. 

Did I ever tell you about the time I was driving down Vashon Highway, and this bald eagle swooped in front of my car and glided mere meters ahead of me? Its wingspan was as wide as my car! It was the most remarkable thing I’ve ever seen. Then it grabbed a dead squirrel out of the road and flew away.  

Others notice the severe lack of wallabies off island. 

I’m shocked we’ve gotten this far in the list and no one has mentioned plane noise yet. 

Some like the anonymity of leaving the island. I’m a little skeptical of this. Every time I go to Trader Joe’s in West Seattle, I run into another member of the Vashon Sunday Grocery Shopping Diaspora. As soon as we see each other, we do the customary greeting of blocking the aisle with our shopping carts while chit-chatting. 

One islander  notes that if you leave the island, you could go all day without walking on grass or sand. This is likely because in Seattle they have a novel piece of public infrastructure called ‘the sidewalk.’

Someone pointed something out that I’ve never noticed, but that resonated with others. “More gray hair on Vashon. Never realized how much dye in the outside world til I came here!”  

Another islander recounts this experience: “My mother came to visit me when I lived on Vashon about 20 years ago. She came from Minneapolis and that’s the first thing she noticed! I thought she would rave over the beauty of the island but no, the first thing she said “why do all these women have Grey hair and no makeup!” 😅

But it’s more than just hair. Many say that everyone off island is more put together. They wear new clothes, fresh make-up, and stylish shoes. Seattleites don’t walk their dogs in pajamas and a safety vest like we do here. 

And it’s not just our bodies that are messy. As one islander says, “When I’m off-island, my car is always the filthiest one in the parking lot.” 

At my house, our cars are covered in cherry blossoms, and we pretend they are getting married. My car has a fine coating of moss, which I think is good, because it camouflages her and keeps her safe from predators.

Another issue off island is the parking. Seattle streets are basically parking lots with a thin band down the middle where you can thread your car as if through a needle, but if you encounter a car coming in the opposite direction, you are both stuck until one of you manages to back into a driveway. Meanwhile, on Vashon, there’s enough room to pass up multiple cars while speeding down the highway in your Tesla. 

And we finally get to a comment about plane noise! Took you all long enough! It goes as such:  “Quiet: IOW there aren’t 300 flights per day flying at low altitude — one every 4 minutes — over wherever I might be located.”

This is unfortunate, as the people off island wish they had our plane noise, as evidenced by this bumper sticker I spied on Whidbey Island. 

We also had this exchange: 

Islander 1: “Everyone on Vashon is so nice”

Islander 2: “accept the liberals” (Note: I think she means ‘except.’  Her typo caused her sentence to mean the opposite of her intention. Anyway, the conversation continued as follows:) 

Islander 1: Eye Roll emoji

Islander 2: “Let me guess your a liberal”

Islander 1: “It’s people like you that make this platform so toxic”

Islander 2: “people like me🇺🇸 make America great🇺🇸

Islander 3: “people like you disgust me.”

I learned something from the thread: “The Spring buds are always a week and a half to two weeks advanced from the island. Also noticed much more damage to plants and trees from the heat dome last year that we didn’t see so much of on Vashon.”

I was also exposed to what is probably a deep well of ancient knowledge that went right over my head. Someone says when they leave the island, they experience,  “​​A temporary loss of “hum” in my throat chakra 💫” This was followed by another islander’s adamant agreement. 

I looked up throat chakra, and according to a cursory internet search, it is the source of your individual expression and truth. When balanced, it frees you from fearing judgment and needing approval. I learned this from a website called crystals and jewelry dot com, so it might not be the most in-depth source of theological and philosophical information. But I think what the poster is getting at is that when leaving the island, they feel more prone to worry about others’ judgment and approval. 

How can people manage this feeling?  One islander says, “amp up my inner patience capacity to meet the density.” 

And I sure hope anyone with a Tesla has a well-balanced throat chakra because we have a lot of judgment coming their way. 

A Tesla sped past cars in a school zone just to end up waiting in the ferry line. We think he should go back to Bellevue but are informed the car had Oregon plates. No matter. As an astute islander informs us, “just because yer from Oregon don’t mean you can’t go back to Bellevue! It’s a state of mind”

Then we get into a debate about whether Teslas are better than other cars. They don’t need gas, but it’s hard to find a place to repair them, and you could wait months for parts. Unfortunately, we don’t leave it at that. People start cutting and pasting paragraphs from press releases and news articles into Facebook comments. JUST POST A LINK! That way it’s easier to ignore. 

It ends on this surreal note. 

Islander who loves Teslas and doesn’t mind waiting three months for their car to come out of the shop: We’re told it won’t be like that in the future

Islander who disagrees: The future is now

Tesla islander: Was

Islander who disagrees: And now…

Finally, a Vashon woman has been stuck on a ship off the coast of Shanghai for over 160 days. She’s been singing and making videos to help manage the stress and boredom. I bet she has lots of observations about how life stranded aboard a ship is different from life on the island. For example, what is the situation with plane noise over the waters of Shanghai? 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.