We are two small-town girls who moved to big cities and eventually found ourselves back in our hometown of Yakima, deep in the heart of Central Washington’s wine country. This blog documents our quest to get to know our hometown in a way we didn’t before and recreate some of the things we loved about urban life.
The financial challenges in our country have led many people to seek refuge in their hometowns with more affordable costs of living and nearer to family support. We were part of that hometown migration. In spite of planning to “never move back home” we both agree that we are exactly where we want to be.
Mandi’s Story (pictured on the right)
I grew up in Yakima, born at the hospital where I currently work. Entering my senior year in high school, I was beside myself imagining bigger cities and shopping and entertainment possibilities I’d never had. I moved to Seattle and made good on my promise to soak it in. I used our free university passes to SAM (Seattle Art Museum), attended ½ price off-broadway shows at the 5th Avenue theatre and spent the rest of my money at my favorite 3rd place (Caffé Ladro) where I would study and write for hours.
I graduated with highly marketable degrees–English and Religious Studies–and moved back to Yakima. Shortly thereafter, I co-opened my dream business: an indie bookshop complete with comfy leather chairs and an espresso bar. For 6 years I reveled in books, coffee, greeting cards (love), invoices, marketing campaigns and customers.
During this time, my sweet girl was born and I added motherhood to my list of dreams accomplished. I also went through a divorce, a home and business sale and married my most wonderful 2nd husband.
A year and a half later, we packed up and moved the fam to Chicago. We settled in a suburb there, but devoted ourselves to playing in that big, beautiful city just a train ride away from our house. I fell in love. Sophie and I walked miles and miles so that we could get to know the city blocks. We explored museums, found our favorite coffee shop (I miss you, Intelligentsia) and did a little shopping.
Two years in Illinois and then back to Yakima. Back home.
Stacie’s Story (pictured on the left)
I was born and raised in Yakima. Dylan and I were high school sweethearts. We met in 8th grade and started dating our Junior year in high school. We dated for six years before getting married and waited another seven years to have kids. We enjoyed being DINKs (Double-Income-No-Kids). Well, we were in college much of that time so the double income thing wasn’t always so great.
Just after we got married we moved to Seattle. We were “never moving back to Yakima”. We loved living in Seattle. We started out in Ravenna, near the University of Washington. We lived right off the Burke Gilman Trail. We could hop on our bikes, roller blades or just throw on our running shoes and follow the trail to Gas Works Park.
We bought our first house, a cottage in Renton. After Kendall was born we bought our second house in Upper Rainier Beach. It came complete with a view of Lake Washington and a yearly Blue Angels show courtesy of the hydroplane races. The shadows of the jets would dance through our living room. They were that close.
Taylor was born two and a half years after Kendall and we continued living in our house by the lake, fixing it up as we could. But after a while the rat race began to wear on us and we and our business were hit hard by the economic downturn. We lived in one city and each worked in different cities. The long commutes, high cost of living and busy schedules got me yearning for my kids to grow up next to cows. I was sure my kids thought dinner only came through a drive through window. And that was confirmed one day on our long commute home when Kendall asked “Where are we getting dinner tonight?”.
I took a year off of work and used the time to decompress, cook real food and really think about the family life that we were living. The girls and I would take the city bus to the Central District Farmer’s Market. We scoured the neighborhood for wild blackberries. We got to know our neighbors better. Funny how you can do that when you aren’t out of the house driving and working 10+ hours a day. We had our fill of playdates, The Children’s Museum, Circus classes. You name it, we did it that year. But eventually Dylan and I felt like it was time to make a change.
We made the decision to move back home. It wasn’t an easy decision.We were not sure what to expect. When I received a job offer over the phone and knew we were moving, I sobbed for two weeks straight. Luckily we have found that family life in our hometown is just what we were looking for. We have enjoyed getting to know Yakima in a different way, a way we didn’t appreciate before. We treasure the connection to our childhood roots and close proximity to family and friends, old and new.
How We (Mandi & Stacie) Met
In 2009 our families had just moved back to the area. We both went to work for the local hospital, though in different departments, and ended up on a project together. One day we found ourselves on the soccer field cheering on our daughters’ new team. Come to find out they were classmates and teammates. Our husbands showed up to practice a short time later and they knew each other through work. That was the beginning of our family friendship.