I have opinions. I am sometimes overwhelming in assertion of my opinions. So I will tell you that sunsets are beautiful and so are sunrises. My opinion.

The Pacific University MFA program from which I graduated in 2007 is in Residency in Seaside this week for the first time in three years. The Winter Residency has been here almost from the beginning. The first Winter Residency was held on campus in Forest Grove, but since classes were in session, the program provided housing in the local McMinemem’s and what with bars and transport to and from, the program moved to the coast where rentals are inexpensive in the off season. January is clearly off season. Even the luxury short-term rentals in our neighborhood have been vacant for a few days each week.

Weather has been challenging since the ice storms in Portland during the week before Christmas. We did not risk the drive to Portland to see family until the morning of the 25th and we drove back west the next day. It has rained here every day since. With an average of 90″ of rainfall, this is nothing new for us.

All of this is certainty. Or most of it. What follows is about a memory. I pieced it together from what Gary and I remember, and we recall different details, so I am not at all certain I have everything correct. It’s a sad story regardless of how it’s remembered, so you might not want to read more of this post.

This is last night’s sunset. Molly Gloss commented at her brilliant reading that perhaps we locals took such color for granted, perhaps we were used to it. But the truth is that Gary called to me from downstairs to check the sky and I called back that I was taking photos. When the sky changed, he called up again, and again I had already taken more photos.

The story is more than 35 years old. I will not name names.

This happened in a largely rural county where Gary worked for decades. The divorced Wife had custody of two small children, younger even that ours and our youngest was about to start Kindergarten in the fall. The story is that Wife had a new boyfriend, and the divorced Husband got wind of this, or perhaps a rumor she might move out of the area—perhaps both. He drove to her home and in front of her two children he stabbed his ex to death.

Then the divorced Husband drove to a nearby town to buy beer and from there to his parents’ home where he told his father he’d killed his ex-Wife and that someone needed to pick up the children. Or perhaps he’d taken them with him.

Gary and I were driving to Sacramento while this was happening. Our boys were just five and nearly seven years old. The trip south on I-5 was so hot we each ate pint of ice cream to cool off. We had no air conditioning. And somewhere just before crossing the border into California, Gary turned the heat on full blast in the car, and my husband and two children laughed when I finally caught on to their joke.

Gary heard the story about the killing when we got home and he went to work. He knew the murdered woman. He thought she was nice.

The grandparents were given custody of the little girl and her infant brother, and the Husband was convicted of manslaughter, not murder. At trial, the story is he threatened the lives of everyone or anyone who helped to convict him. He served seven years and became involved with his therapist. On release, he married that therapist and sued for custody of the children.

Friends from the city said that rural people were more dangerous and disreputable than people in the city. Of course, I was offended. I know other stories: the Black man shot to death on his doorstep just a handful of blocks from my friend’s home when we were in high school. She was also Black in a largely White Seattle suburb. The mother of a friend was beaten to death in her own bedroom just uphill from my old studio east of the University of Washington campus. Neither of those killers were ever caught and convicted, though the suspects were known.

Some of us are more vulnerable, some of us are more afraid, some of us are more careful. It doesn’t always make a difference.

I can’t say with certainty that these events occurred as I recount them. I was not there.

I am certain of the earth’s curve, of rain and wind, of morning, and I am absolutely certain this place is beautiful. Life is beautiful.

The world can be a terrible place, a hard place, but I have put on my black “Writer” t-shirt and I am going for a walk on the shore. It will probably rain and I’m okay with that.

No one complained about my typos. Normally, Gary would have pointed them out, but we were all in a rush this morning and he has not yet read this post. This afternoon, I checked for the first time. I think I have corrected what mistakes I recognize.

14 thoughts on “CERTAINTY

  1. I hope this Murderer was not given custody of his children. The trauma and grief he inflicted on his own children is beyond understanding and yet it happens every day.
    Beautiful sunrise and or sunset God’s beauty shared with all of us.
    Take care and Happy New Year Jan

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The last sentence before the last picture—ya’ll talkin funny or iz it jest me—ha ha—nice photos just like Arizona or something—thanks to all who make words come true and every time a bell rings a Marvin gets his wings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have followed your blog at some time in the past. I think it was on Blogger before I left there not sure. I have also had other blogs here on WordPress so it could have been here. Good to see you again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jane, powerful words and images. I agree, our eyes have to be open to life’s beauty or we might miss it. I found you on Dinty Moore’s article this morning. I lived in Oregon at one time and loved it. It’s wonderful to connect.

    Liked by 1 person

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