I’m in Port Townsend house sitting for 16 days. I’ve never house sit for this length of time before. It’s for a dear friend from mountain rescue. We’re also collaborating on a project for an upcoming photography show; I’m supporting with written words. I wasn’t sure of my time commitment to do such a thing this summer but I knew once I settled into his house, my journalist deadline instinct would kick in and all would be fine. I’m treating my time up here like a writing retreat and it’s been refreshing to just sit in my own head for a while with a project.

In fact, I don’t know whenever I’ve ever done something like this. It’s hard for me to sit down with my thoughts.

Of course, it’s taken some adjusting. It’s like being in an AirBnB but you know the person who lives here but yet you don’t, since for the majority of your six-year friendship, you’ve lived an hour from each other and visited only briefly via meetings, missions or the Internet, plus the occasional meal to catch up.

It’s also really quiet up here.

It’s an older home, historic, built in 1889. 10-foot ceilings, odd additions, with exterior siding on the inside of the first floor bathroom. It’s two floors, with a lovely wide staircase that creaks. Especially that last step at the top. Until yesterday, whenever I put weight on it, I jumped a little. It sounded like a little mouse squeaking. Or a groaning rocking chair. I couldn’t decide.

Now when I approach the step, I gleefully put my weight on it, entertained by its “eek.”

I told an acquaintance I was staying in PT in an older home. Her eyes got really big and she told me of her stay in an older home up here one time too. “There are ghosts, Tiffany. But they’re friendly ghosts.”

To entertain myself, I’ve named the “ghost” of this house, who is responsible for all the little old house noises, Ellie Mc Kay.


But I didn’t think about ghosts the first night. Or the second night.

The first night was filled with nightmares that I blamed on drinking old wine. And just not being used to the structure’s noises – gutters leaking, house settling, neighbors scuttling about. But it was one of those nightmares where someone walks into your room, even though you know it’s not real, and they appear in the doorway, and you’re trying really really really hard to say the name of who you think it is, and if you just open your eyes and speak, it will all be over, and then they just say in a deep low voice:

“I missed my ferry.”

Your eyes fly open, you start panic breathing, and then you don’t sleep for the next hour.

Night 2 had legitimate reasons for unusual noises.

I was mostly awake (again, blame the old wine) and suddenly, there was a huge BANG downstairs, followed by the entire house shaking.


Then the shaking didn’t stop – for about a solid 30 seconds (so it felt).

“Wait. I think we had an earthquake. That HAD to have been an earthquake.”

A few minutes later, at 3 a.m., I see half of the Pacific Northwest is awake on Facebook because of a 4.6 in Everett, followed by a 3.5 aftershock.

Reassuring to know but I still didn’t fall sleep for another hour.

On the third night, I didn’t have any wine. I slept like a baby.


The past few days, while I adjusted to establishing a routine in a space that isn’t mine, I’ve almost dreaded coming back each time. It’s quiet. Almost too quiet. There’s no one here.

Not that it bothers me at my house in Bremerton. I live by myself there too. But I live in a whirlwind of energy, with lots of traffic, a tenant going in and out downstairs at odd hours, my own coming and going all the time, sprinting out the door to run or go to work. Plus, projects, so many house projects. And social events.

But here? Nothing.

Tonight, as I was sitting next to five photographs from which I’m taking inspiration to write interview questions, I was struck by how much I’m enjoying the quiet. The only noise is the rustling of the trees from gentle winds that breeze through town every evening, which seems appropriate for a seaport town.

I set priorities during these 16 days to retreat, interview, write and run, and not really do much of anything else (aside from the full time job). Haven’t really even cooked, thanks to the delicious farm stores and the co-op with their fresh grab n’ go food.

I thought I’d stack my time here by jumping on all the weird things that PT has to offer. But nope.

And now I get why writers do these things. I thought I’d be bored or distracted, but that’s the point. I’m not.

Of course, I’m distracted right now, laying out my thoughts about the blissful quiet. But I’m treating it as a writing exercise. I don’t do that enough. I’d like to do more.

Hopefully this house will give me more adventures to write about.