Harbor Man

From 2000 to 2010, Harry had four sightings of what he believed to be Bigfoot. I don’t know what that number has grown to as of today. Around 2013, Harry cut ties with the larger organizations he had been working with and decided he no longer wanted to take people into areas with high levels of Bigfoot activity.

Harry has always been honest to our family about believing in Bigfoot, but for years he hid just how far he had taken things. He never told us about the samples or the research projects. I don’t know why he stayed so secretive; I can only assume it was partly because he felt alone and left behind in the community of his childhood and maybe he didn’t want us to think the constant gray skies of the Harbor had finally gotten the better of him.

In 2009, Harry finally came clean and showed my mother and me a grainy picture of what he claimed were two Bigfoot. I was only 9 years old and I don’t remember seeing much more than a mess of bright green foliage with two shadows planted in the middle. He pleaded with us while tracing his finger along the screen, trying to point out their toothy grins, but all my mother and I could see were amorphous blobs of darkness.

I don’t know exactly how this event shaped my opinion of him, but I know well into my teenage years I questioned his judgment and sanity. I want to say I always respect and admired Harry, but I can’t. I loved him: he was my loner uncle who spent his days in the woods escaping the anxieties of society by picking mushrooms; sometimes he ate bugs just to make his nieces and nephews laugh; and occasionally, when I did something tough like put hot sauce on my scrambled eggs, he would give me a wink and say, “You’re pretty alright, kid.” But, despite my fondness for him, I didn’t know him very well. Until I was 11 years old, I lived two counties over from Grays Harbor and he was just the strange man from the strange county who I only saw a couple times a year.

Grays Harbor is a community of people who feel forced to give up on themselves. It has been this way since the logging crash. It’s a feeling that’s become so prevalent, the people have crafted a moniker to define themselves by it: Harbor People.

It’s a teasing and self-deprecating term meant to feel light against the heaviness of their Pabst-soaked tongues and give them something to laugh about while blaming their problems on the Harbor rather than themselves. The idea is to group everyone together, to build a fellowship of those who have had their lives similarly stolen by the Harbor, and to use this camaraderie to take comfort in who they are. There’s also a degree of isolation that falls into place beside the title; it’s a turning of their back against the world just as the world has done to them.