"Another Blog on the Fire" Michael Dashiell
Contact Mike at email@example.com
Michael Dashiell (that's me) is editor of the Sequim Gazette. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Western Washington University, has worked at the Sequim Gazette for about 10 years and enjoys writing — occasionally. He and his wife Patsene live in Sequim; their two daughters are in college. He will write about anything, but particularly enjoys sports, arts, breaking news and news-of-the-weird. He also enjoys writing about himself in the third person.
Thursday before last, I spent the late, late evening with hundreds of my closest friends.
No, I'm not in a cult. I swear.
I was one of the multitude of Sequimmers who shuffled out of their houses post-turkey to do the slumbering dance of Black Friday — or, rather, of Dark Grey Thursday, as it should be called — since we started at 10 p.m. Thursday night.
Predictably, I suppose, the Walmart parking lot was packed to overflow. Still, I hadn't seen a turnout for something in Sequim past 10 p.m. since 2003 — when the city council was taking public comments about Walmart building its monolith store on Sequim's west end.
(Around that time, I told my sister that Sequim was considering putting in a Walmart, and, being from the I-5 corridor, she was nonplussed. "You don't get it," I told her. "We don't have anything over three stories in Sequim, much less a building the size of a Walmart that's so big it may have its own moon."
Maybe it's like this every Black Friday. I wouldn't know. This was my first time jumping into the fray.
I'm not sure what I was expecting: balloons, screaming and yelling, fistfights over the collector's edition of "Twilight," maybe an explosion or two.
Nothing of the sort happened.
Oh, I'm sure you've heard the stories of people kicking and punching to be the first in line for the $1.99 set of dish towels. Stories that night and on into Friday afternoon told of hundreds of people — including some employees — taking part in Black Friday demonstrations at Walmarts across the nation. They were protesting the retailer's so-called retaliation against speaking out for fairer pay, improved schedules and affordable health care, according to CNN. Apparently, the smiley face didn't work on them.
But Sequim? Not here. Was the store full? Yes. Were people civil? Absolutely. And everyone, it seemed, had a flat-screen TV in their cart. I mean, maybe 98 percent. Those who didn't were racing around the store with eyes popping, scouting for their friends for a better deal on a bigger, better flat-screen TV.
I admit it. I got caught up. Right now, in my living room, there's a flat-screen TV I really have no need for and will probably return soon. But I'm weak and wanted to be part of the action.
I realize some people may read that and think, "Geez, what are you doing? Did you do ANYTHING with your family on Thanksgiving or did you just shop? Don't you realize the meaning of the holiday?"
Of course. Earlier that day, I spent Thanksgiving with most of my lovely family. With my wife and my daughter Hallie and daughter Chelsea and her boyfriend, Logan, I trekked to Bremerton to spend the holiday with my mom and sister and my sister's family. We had a blast.
In a break in the holiday festivities, I took a break and walked my dog around the old neighborhood. This is a rather average suburban neighborhood between Bremerton and Silverdale. I spent my formative youth here, grade 7 through high school (and a couple of years after that, in my haze of post-graduation aimlessness).
Something really struck me on that walk. I'm not sure if it was the turkey or the quality time with my family or the literal walk down memory lane that had me in such reverie, but I started recounting all the families I used to know here. There, that house on the right, was my close pal J.D., tallest kid in school. We spent every day for two summers there, playing basketball and video games, doing our best to fend off any kind responsibility. Two houses down is where Adam lived, in a house where we talked philosophy (well, as close as 17-year-olds talking about the meaning of life can get to being philosophers, anyway) and listened to Jimi Hendrix. Another couple of houses from that is the house with the big backyard where we played football. Two houses from that was where Pete and I would trudge around in the woods.
Every other house was another tomb of memories, another friend or another family I knew. Now, in my mind, they're relegated to poorly detailed anecdotes.
The common theme here was, I found, that those friends and families are all gone. And part of that reason is because, of course, I'd gotten older. We don't expect our friends to live in their parents' homes, of course, but it seems families rarely hunker down in one place anymore, not for any long stretch. Maybe this isn't true in the Midwest (I don't know, having lived there all of 11 months), but it seems Americans are transitory people. Whereas 150 years ago it was a big deal to traverse the country, we now do it in a few hours. Moving a home does not involve Herculean effort from the entire family, with cross-continent journeys generally involving slow-moving wagons, potential death-by-snowdrift and that crowd favorite, dysentery.
Hours later, walking around the Sequim Walmart, I realized that yes, I have moved on. I remember my time in that suburban neighborhood as part of my childhood, but it is not my home anymore. As I spied friends of mine with stacks of DVDs cradled in their arms in the electronics department — and exchanged sheepish looks that say, "Geez, what are we doing here?" — I was satisfied to know that Sequim is my new "hometown." It feels good to know that I can find my friends and acquaintances good-naturedly battling for a spot in the check-out line.
The term "Black Friday" has a generally negative connotation that dates back to the mid-1960s. Whatever. I had a great time. Now what to do with this flat-screen TV …