This story originally aired on June 17, 2017.
You may have thought about living on the San Juan in an abstract, big-picture sense: basking in the rain shadow, long bike rides along rolling hills, the best garden of your life. But what about the practical parts of day-to-day life, like dating? What if you couldn’t take someone out to dinner without everyone you see every single day knowing your business?
When you move to one of our fine islands, it takes over your life — and that’s part of the appeal, getting locked into a semi-off-grid life. Committing to the island is one thing, though. Committing to a person on the island is another thing entirely.
Many of us have already dated in close quarters; high school comes to mind. Small towns can get weird. Specific communities, like fandoms or music scenes, can be their own fishbowls. But what if meeting someone you didn’t already see every day meant getting on a ferry — which only runs every few hours during the winter?
This can have a few effects on people: Some folks get quiet, while some live their lives as out-loud as possible. But one thing’s for sure: Literally everyone knows every bit of your business. We checked in with the islanders of Orcas to get their perspective on relationships, dating, and living a life you don’t mind everyone knowing about.