Deena Romoff – Spokane in Perspective

“It’s amazing who you can connect with.”

I’ve lived in Spokane since 1974-75. At the beginning I thought about staying at [Tolstoy Farms], because I had no skills. I didn’t know how to get a job. I mean, really! It was very frightening for me. I didn’t know how to dress. I didn’t know how to act or talk to people. At one point . . . 1977 maybe? I got a job as a teacher’s aide. It was some program that they put you on if you’re unemployed. I’m working in Grant School, which used to be here. My kids went there. I’m working with this teacher, and I’d say things like, “My partner,” rather than “my husband.” And it would just be like . . . Everything is an issue. My life was an issue for a lot of people, because I just flaunted it, because I couldn’t hide it. I think that was my survival skill that I’d learned from a little girl: put it out there and see who connects with it. Or, to see where I can connect with someone: “Wow! Oh that’s great. I like you.” You know? Rather than being isolated, quiet, and introverted. That’s how you find like-minded people. You put it out there and some people go “woo-oo” [i.e., “She’s nuts”]. It’s amazing who you can connect with.

I would [move] from place to place looking for somewhere to connect. Even in Spokane, the connections you make, they don’t last forever. You have to make new ones. I stayed in Spokane because it was easy. It was a small community. I could get used to it. I could have a home. I could be a big fish in a little pond. It was easy to raise kids here. Didn’t need a lot of money.

Now I think, “I can go anywhere.” I can do, really, [anything]. I’m almost retired, and this and that. Seattle has a lot happening, but I’m older. I’m more tired. I can’t go do all those things! And it’s different meeting people when you’re older. People already have their friends and their community that they’ve been building for their whole lifetime. It’s very hard. People are dying. At this point, I keep choosing to stay in Spokane because it’s easier. I don’t have to struggle as much as I’ve always had to struggle.

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Source: Interview with Laura S. Hodgman on 20 March 2013.