A lovely friend of mine (Thanks, Sarah!) recommended Kjristi (pronounced Sherstee) to me. She passed along my information and encouraged Kjristi to reach out. She did right away and we spent a couple of weeks organizing a time to meet. In the end, I ended up going to her home and met her for the first time in her driveway. She was immediately warm and kind and very hospitable. Her home is packed with musical instruments and art and sewing materials. It's a lived-in and lovely home and it's obvious that really cozy times happen in there.
Who are you?
My name is Kjristi Nash and I'm 35. I'm a mom. I have two kids. My oldest son's name is Spri and he's 14 and my youngest son is Wylder and he's 8. My husband's name is Dan. I've lived in Bend for 13.5 years, so I feel like I'm from Oregon now.
Where do you come from?
I'm from Washington State, Ephrata. It's a small town, sort of central Washington. When I grew up, there were maybe 4,000 or 5,000 people. Kind of small - farm and agriculture pretty much. I kind of grew up on a farm. Kind of not. My dad actually worked for my grandparents on their dairy farm, so we were there all the time playing around and helping out, but we didn't actually have too much to do at home that was farm-like, but we did have pigs and chickens for a while. Kind of funny.
What brought you to Bend?
When I was 21 and Dan was 20, we had Spri, so we were pretty young. And we were living in our hometown with his mom and we didn't really know what we were doing (laughs). We didn't really have any money. He was working part-time and trying to save up money to figure out where we were going to go because we knew we didn't want to live where we grew up. Previously, we had been living in Bellingham, Washington, which is by Seattle. And we knew we didn't want to live there. Dan's dad moved to Oregon - to Madras. He had been here for like a year and invited us to stay with him for the summer. Dan got a job rebuilding the middle school because part of the building had collapsed that winter. And we just kind of moved to Oregon, like in one day. We didn't have any furniture. We had no real possessions or anything, so we just packed what we had and drove to Oregon and moved in with his dad for the summer. Eventually we kept coming to Bend for things, like there would be music or we'd come to the river and just hang out. Bend kept drawing us, so we figured we should just move here. At the end of the summer, we found rent in Sun River and just moved here and we've stayed ever since.
What do you like about Bend?
I really like how there's a river through town. I think it really brings people out and gets them outside. It feels good. It brings a certain kind of people. People that appreciate it and want to take care of it, too. It felt like a friendly area and people were pretty nice here. At the time, rent was really cheap (laughs). So that was cool. It was affordable. Something about it just felt good. We kept continuing to find good places to rent. People were always suggesting we buy a house or settle down, but we never really felt like we were choosing that. It was just kind of happening. And it's still happening (laughs). It's fun to have a music scene, too. It brings different kinds of people in. And that's fun. I don't go out a lot, but when I want to, it's fun.
How do you contribute to the community?
I feel like I probably haven't contributed to the community as much as I could. I'm just kind of getting into that more. I was a stay-at-home mom for a long time, so raising kids really kept me preoccupied. Now I feel like I'm more prepared to get into town more and I want to be a part of it more. Whereas before, it was just kind of easier to kind of do my thing with the kids and family stuff - not participate as much, maybe. It's gone by so fast. It's weird to think that the kids are already older. I'm a helpful person. Volunteering in school - that's helpful to the teachers. Helping people in town - random things that I see that I can do, I like to do that. I like to help out.
Do you have favorite activity here?
I really like camping out at Todd Lake. It's a beautiful, small lake up passed Mt. Bachelor. All spring it's got these little, teensy tiny streams that come down with really cold water. It's so much fun to camp up there. You can drink the fresh water and you can hike around back there. It's easy. Fun. Relaxing. It's a good time.
What do you wish for the future?
I really do hope that the rent situation can somehow change. I hope it can be less of a stress on people. And people will be able to afford to live here better. A lot of people have tried to make this a really good area, so I feel like that will happen. I hope it continues to be a beautiful place. And I hope people continue to take care of the land and keep providing the fun things that are here. The trails are amazing. People really care about taking care of all the outdoor things that you can do. I really like that the music scene is growing. That is really great. That's a huge thing to keep bringing in good music, like, all year around. It's good and I think it can keep getting better.
I just want to be happy. Really and truly, I just want to keep finding things that feel good to do and I want to be a happy person. I want to keep growing. Honestly, I don't ever want to stop evolving. I want to keep being a good parent. I feel like I'm a pretty good parent. I care about people. It builds more appreciation and love in everyone's lives. And it just gets better, hopefully. Ultimately, I just want to be a happy person.
Do you have thoughts regarding Bend's growth?
I was one of those people, 13 years ago, moving here. We all were those people. I think that's the thing that we forget. One area doesn't just belong to somebody. Having a big growth of people, we do need to be careful about properly managing the land and keeping it at its best. I think it's weird that people decide to be super negative. It's a shame because, really, they could be doing the opposite and they are choosing not to. We could all have a really amazing area, whether it grows bigger or not. Yeah, the more the merrier. I don't know, as long as people have good attitudes. But, if they don't, then that sucks to me. Just because I've been here for a little while, doesn't mean it's my town. People need to share (laughs). We need to share better. Why is that so hard? I don't know. There's a lot of negativity. Finding ways to stay positive and to make an area a great area is everybody doing that. It takes everybody working together.