Leah and Ryan, Raymond, WA

I met with Leah and Ryan at their home in Raymond, WA, in late January. We spoke about American politics, moving to new phases in life, and being drawn to the work you're meant to do.

"In the climate we’re in presently, we talk about all kinds of things. The representation of America, it isn’t what the individuals living it think it is. We have a friend here in Raymond who just recently was laid off from his job… he said something about him being middle class, and nobody's watching out for the middle class. I was just taken aback, because he has been brainwashed or fed certain media to believe that he is middle class... and he is not middle class, he’s very far from middle class. I feel like the government has portrayed this image that the working class is the middle class so that the working class protects the rights of the actual middle class. And that's not very American." - Leah

Leah and Ryan on their porch, Raymond, WA

"So I’m in my 40s now. I started having kids when I was 18. I had three right together in my late teens, early 20s, and then I went to school, got a job and had to support all of them. I had another kid and I had a really good job in my 30s. I worked a lot of hours—50-60 hours a week. I was married to an alcoholic. I had kind of decided that was the way my life was, that was the way it was going to be, and just kind of had made peace with that. One day I got off work early, I came home and my ex-husband had passed out and had set an alarm clock to wake himself up so he could stumble to school to get my daughter, who was in first grade. Not that he hadn’t done 100 other things that were like that or even worse. But for some reason that day... That was enough. So I tossed him and his stuff out. He kept trying to come back, and I had always let him before, 18 years of back and forth. But I had just turned 40, and I just had a change in my mindset and I let him go. I decided that I was going to think about and do some of the things that I really wanted to do ... I wanted to be Me." -Leah
"I don’t like borders, I don’t like nationalism, I don’t like governments. It's fucked, and it's keeping us back as humanity. And this applies to everybody, this applies to a Canadian living in Canada, and this applies to an Argentinian living in Argentina and this applies to a Ghanaian living in Ghana. Everybody’s struggle is the same. I’ve been to 44 states and 28 countries. In the course of my travels, I always met the arrogant European who is like, 'Oh, you’re a fuckin' American,' and I’m like, 'I guess I’m an American, because I have an American passport.' ... Sometimes I'll play into it. One time I was talking with somebody who was like, 'Yeah, America is the best, we're the greatest, we're No. 1,' so I started talking to him about all these great things about America, like 'Yeah, America's got the most obese people, we’ve got the most gun murders.' And half the people started saying 'OK, he’s trolling us.' And this one dude was just not getting it. I was laying the bait out in front of him on a silver platter. And he was getting more and more infuriated. everyone started saying, 'You’ve gotta stop, he doesn’t get that you’re joking.' It was hilarious, though. Yeah I have a fucking passport that says United States of America, I live in Raymond, Washington, I was born here. Sure! But I don’t know, I don’t feel any less of a connection with other people than I do with anybody here. I don't need to be under a flag, I don’t need to be united under a language." - Ryan
"I worked at an OB-GYN in Spokane, and I ended up being terminated from that job because they said I wasn't a good fit. But the trouble for me started after I questioned the doctor I worked for’s unwillingness to prescribe Plan B for one of his patients, who was crying and begging him for it. She could have gone into a pharmacy and purchased it over the counter if she had the $35 in her pocket. Unfortunately she doesn’t have enough money to feed the kids she already has, so she was begging for Plan B and he wouldn’t prescribe it to her. So I provided her with the emergency Planned Parenthood number where you can get services 24 hours a day ... In all of those instances I’ve always been able to find a way around it that I was comfortable with, where I never overstepped." - Leah