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  • Liz Totton

My WA Keychain is Empty. My Heart is Full.


I am homeless and carless. I have not been in this state in a very long time—not since my last stint at traveling. I was 25 then. Very few of my friends owned a home but almost no one was with out a car.

Anyway, this doesn’t happen to an awful lot of 40 somethings willingly, I imagine. Our family was pretty much all set up: nice house, nice neighborhood, great schools, more friends than most would be lucky to have in a lifetime, two cars, trampoline, tiller, you name it. Again, why leave this?


As I jingle my empty, WA state, blingy, blue keychain—a perfectly lovely new one (thank you Stacy Adragna for the parting gift) just begging for the weight of a few keys, I again ponder this. Forgive my dwelling on our leaving—you probably just want me to get onto the interesting travel stuff already, but I am a little stuck. I think once I start my next chapter, I will become unstuck. In the meantime, I am going to take a moment to address exactly what we are giving up, so my readers know why this is so hard. I would like to let you know how amazing Olympia, WA is, though I am a little wary of doing this: we might get priced out when we try to return. It’s great place to live, but stay where you are damn it!


Olympia, WA was a very special place for our family—especially Rob & I. The girls will only know Olympia as home when they think back. Rob and I will think of it as the community that [temporarily] tamed our nomadic hearts. Before Olympia, we really were kind of nomads—we will be again for a few years. Some call us “citizens of the world”—that’s pretty true. I am American, but I hope to call all 6 continents home before I die. (Yes, I neglected to include Antartica—I have no interest in sub-zero, unless it’s a freezer in my kitchen, thank you.) Rob’s not American, but most of you know that. He had very little interest in staying stateside (having lived in every other coastal corner of the USA) until we landed in Olympia. It was a town that, by all accounts, made no sense for us ever to drop in on, but we did–Sand in the City 2005. We fell in love with a festival, a community and soon a preschool (Hands On Children’s Museum ((HOCM))—museum responsible for Sand in the City every year). It was truly love at first festival. If you are ever in Olympia, don’t miss it: third weekend in August, I believe.

We quickly enrolled our oldest daughter, Skye, in the HOCM pre-K. We made friends that we will have forever thanks to that place. HOCM ushered us into the community in numerous ways. We have been so happy to watch it grow as our family grew alongside it in a myriad of ways.

Along the way, our daughters grew. We made amazing friends in our neighborhood, birthday parties, friends of friends, at Centennial ES, at Jefferson MS, through sports, community outreach, parklife, et al. I have always laughed about and loved Olympia’s 1 degree of separation. I grew up in a far smaller town, but found that almost everyone I met in Olympia knew someone that I knew (that was me talking about Oly in the past tense—noted and cringed upon by me).

So, Olympia taught Rob & I how to stay put, grow roots, love your neighbor and adore all the trappings that an amazing community can offer a family. I feel very fortunate to have ever stepped onto that port plaza in August 2005 and to have fallen in love with a town. I am probably waxing nostalgic, but I am not sure this rapture will ever happen to both of us—at the same time—in the exact same way—ever again! Back in 2005, we were also kind of “homeless.” We had two cars, two beautiful, young baby girls and a pile of stuff, but we were searching for a real “home”: a place that was suitable to raise your children and grow as a family. We found it in you, Olympia, and all the amazing people that we have met that call it home. I cannot adequately describe you, nor quantify you to other people elsewhere (mostly b/c I want to shut my mouth about this little, perfect place so I don’t get priced out—I just cannot keep a secret.) I can only say that we are better as a family for having known you as a city and as a populace. I hope you stay the same—‘til we get back—and prosper (but not too much). I cannot imagine Oly gentrified, but it could happen. Stay true Oly!! You are perfect as you are!!


Today, I am feeling very thankful for all the kind people that I have in my life of whom I am temporarily taking leave. For the past few weeks, I have felt a little like a gypsy with my two gypsy girls, relying upon the kindness of others. Thank you Olympians for all your help and love. We already miss everyone there.

#Olympia #WA #UAE #Expat #AuDhabi

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