I was sitting in a motel breakfast area with a friend in Arcata listening to a SoCal couple discussing a move to Brookings. They joined a couple they had just met and were bouncing the idea off of them.
The Brookings-interested couple had just traveled here, looked at real estate and were spending a day in Arcata before heading home. Recently retired, they wanted to cash in their California home, use the proceeds to buy a house in Brookings and fund years of retirement.
The woman wore a large pair of glasses decorated with some sequins at the upper corners. Her hair was immaculately coiffed, and she sported knee socks and a pair of shoes as thin as crepes. He wore a wool sweater and a pair of red pants. His shoes, as thin as hers, were orange.
My friend and I dropped our conversation to listen. Our heads tilted slightly to indicate shared fear. Our Brookings’ friends wear boots, raise chickens and goats, and drive lifted trucks.
But autumn had arrived gloriously. The Chetco Bar Fire was out. The sun shone brightly over warm beaches. Black-tailed deer dallied about town, and elk herds crossed Highway 101. Brookings was a postcard come to life, a gentle wave splashing against Rainbow Rock.
“And real estate is so cheap,” the Brookings-convert-couple chimed together.
“We could buy two houses at those prices,” he said. “And still retire nicely.”
Now, our heads tilted he other way. Our fear. As flip-flop wearing ex-Floridians, we were also looking at real estate in Brookings and finding the prices unbelievably high.
“Did you hear about so-and-so’s husband?” I said.
“No. What happened?” my friend replied.
“He went out to his car during the rut in Brookings, and a buck gored him in his driveway.”
“Oh my God. Is he OK?”
I assured her that so-and-so had survived but was laid-up for most of the RAINY season.
My friend shook her head sadly. “Didn’t a cougar eat their dog?”
Sad. Just so sad.
The couple slowly turned to see our maudlin faces, then finished their meal in silence.
Reach Boyd C. Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org .