Once upon a time I wrote a love letter to Canuckistan. But I have fallen out of love. I’m ready for a trial separation. Probably divorce. I’m done being treated with disdain. And I prefer the neighbour now.
Since the beginning of November I have been wandering around Washington, USA, and I have found a completely different vibe down here. I was so jaded and tired of taking photos what with the suspicion with which I was treated in Canuckistan, that I was terrified to take out my camera in ‘merica. Because I had heard scary stories about the natives and their view on foreigners. And their guns.
It’s a beautiful part of the world, though, and so I took the risk.
But here in Canuckistan’s southern neighbour I was pleasantly surprised at how uber-friendly everyone was. Like, I have even tried to get people to say no to me taking photos of them. The other day I wandered into a barbershop full of burly men having their hair and beards coiffed. I was convinced they wouldn’t want their photos taken, but no, they were completely keen. At a farmers’ market, when I took a photo of a man who looked like a gnome, his wife jumped into the shot with a “hey, what about me?” And then, more recently I asked a family if I could take photos of them in a diner and the dad offered for all of his kids to come and pose at the milkshake “bar” for me.
Everywhere, people speak to me like I’m a human being, not a threat. They ask me where I’m from and what camera I’m shooting with, and why I chose Nikon over Canon, and whether I’ve been up Mount Baker, and what else I’d like to see. And they tell me I should visit their hometown, or maybe come back in three weeks time when there’s snow on the ground because it’s prettier then. Every day someone surprises me with their genuine friendliness. And it’s heartwarming.
But back to the diner. I have been looking for a typical diner experience ever since arriving in Washington. One morning last week, with no food at home, we went in search of somewhere to have breakfast. We started at a diner down the road, but the light wasn’t right for photos. And so we drove south to our favourite village, Fairhaven. But that diner only opened at lunchtime, with hamburgers and ‘shakes its speciality. Of course, Google is your friend and with its help we found another diner somewhere in between the other two.
From the outside, “My Diner” doesn’t look like a diner you might see in the movies but inside it seems as typical as I imagined. The breakfasts were huge, my coffee mug never ran dry, and every staff member came over to chit-chat. Hey, even some of the patrons would lean over their seats and shout out something to add to the conversation. I even found space for try some of their famous strawberry rhubarb pie with ice cream. And before the end of the meal I had been told about Jesus and invited to church by two different people.
These few weeks in the north-west corner of Washington State have made me feel normal again. They’ve not only swelled my stomach, but also my soul.