it was on our first trip out to orcas together to visit james' sister, i'd say about ten years ago, that i really noticed edison. on this particular day, we drove those familiar curves, james cutting all the corners like a racecar driver in his band-aid beige loaf-of-bread westfalia. he lived on orcas once, and had spent many a day commuting to and from bellingham via chuckanut. he pointed out the crucial historical landmarks, his favorite hikes, and places he almost lived in. "good thing you didn't", i'd say, "or you wouldn't have met me." we let the dog out at clayton beach, then stopped for breakfast in the tiny red cafe on the corner, the one with sloping floors and ceiling, the trademark red and white starburst formica table, and the outdoor closet of a restroom. the bar seats were filled with salty old farmers mulling over the season, reading the paper or rolling dice for their coffee, and good-ol julie reliably filled their cups right on cue. they looked at us suspiciously out of the corner of their eye: tourists. this was a locals' place. "what'll ya have", julie growled. she ran the place right: you could tell those farmers came partly for the food, but mostly for the company, the daily ritual. the menu wasn't fancy, a humble plastic menu board filled with red and black plastic letters plainly delineating things like grilled cheese 3 or hamburger 5. "two eggs over easy, potatoes and toast," we stammered, slightly self-conscious. the coffee was terrible, but the atmosphere, just perfectly old fashioned. completely authentic.
"i've always wanted to live here." james confessed.
that was the beginning.