Off Brand: Goodbye, Whidbey, it’s been nice knowing you

I move yearly. It’s been a habit since 2013 and this year marks a decade of nomadism. While I typically relocate to combat the risk of being too comfortable, the last couple of moves have been made in the name of Rachel.

Rachel interviewed for a reporter position at the News-Times while we were air mattress-surfing in San Diego. The idea of an island on Washington’s coast sounded exotic, but so did getting out of southern California. It would be her first foray into real journalism, and mine as a passenger along for the ride. She pounced on the opportunity and we made a detour toward our home state of Ohio.

Those familiar with maps know that the Midwest is not necessarily on the way to anywhere. But going the straight path has never been Rachel’s forte, and clearly hasn’t been mine. The thrill is in the drive, not where you park. We abandoned our undesirables with our respective families, loaded up the car with more things we’d — in due time — consider undesirable and sputtered toward the West Coast once again.

We’ve been living on Whidbey for over a year now, which means — if the last ten years of my annual moving have alluded to anything — our time here is winding down. While Rachel reported the biweekly news, I sporadically wrote a handful of columns under the title, Off Brand: a collection of disjointed thoughts that gave the school board president cause to call me “funny boy.”

I like making mountains out of ant hills. First inspired by Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry, I covered the controversial Coke versus Pepsi debate for the final issue of my high school’s newspaper. In college, I wrote about nothing for their last dozen print editions. And now for the News-Times, my last column of superfluous thoughts. It’s an accomplishment to read what you’ve written on paper and ink. Thanks to Jessie Stensland for even considering this nonsense.

Come fall, Rachel is teaching English in France and I’m making a movie in Ohio. She gets congratulated, and I get questioned. This is commonplace. I have a manic philosophy when it comes to career choices. I’ve pressed bad music into vinyl records and worked for a fertility clinic for six years of my brevity on this planet. Whoops.

Being a Whidbey Islander and writing this column are a few of the tens of things I’ll do with my life. My words are confused and I am, too. I expect a lot, but it’s hard to pinpoint what I’m expecting on any given day. I’m constantly pressuring myself to improve, to change, to move, to be different. I hope that I’ll eventually be happy enough with what I’m doing to stay put someplace, and I hope the same for you. Funny Boy, signing off.

Brandon Berry is a curious Whidbey Island deserter who regrets not going to Jumbo Burrito more often.