Jacob Swearingen has a ubiquitous place in my life. I know that from the many photographs I have of him and I, from our high school years when we were classmates and beyond.
When I began to envision a sign for Sunnyshore Studio – a handcrafted sign that evoked the beach life of Camano, the simple and slow, tranquil and cheerful Island life – I didn’t have to think long about who I wanted to design and create it: it had to be Jacob.
Here is the story behind the sign.
Jacob was a classmate in Stanwood, but he didn’t burst unto my consciousness until maybe eighth grade or even high school when he emerged as one of the most creative, interesting, intelligent, fun-loving, unique characters at Stanwood HS.
We had many adventures together during our high school years. Chief among those was participating in drama class and doing plays together under master teacher Don Good.
He fought in the wars I held on Camano at my parent’s home. Wars that lasted through the night, and that took place in the woods and beaches of the Island.
We spent hours hanging with friends like Bob Diem and Steve Sieverson at the beach below our home.
When we graduated from Stanwood high school I saw less of Jacob. But he was still around, willingly present in my life. I introduced him to my friends from college who visited Camano (they couldn’t really experience Camano without meeting Jacob).
And I introduced him to Jenny Wallace, the beautiful girl I had met my freshman year in college.
In fact, Jacobmade the long trip down to Redding, CA in the heat of June on a motorcyle to stand as a friend and a groomsman in Jenny and my wedding. That was in 1992.
And though our paths crossed less and less over the years and we were separated by physical distance for well over a decade (Jacob living in Eugene, OR and I in Indianapolis, IN), still I consider him one of my dearest and most treasured friends.
And so when the time came to finally move forward with Sunnyshore Studio, and I began to dream of how I could invite my creative friends to collaborate with me on my project, I immediately thought of Jacob, and his creative, whimsical, artistic gifts, of his deep heart knowledge of Camano Island, of his love and loyalty to me. I knew I could ask him to gift me with a sign. And I did. And he said “Yes.”
So on Saturday, March 19th, I found myself driving to Eugene, OR. I had lunch with our old high school friend, Bob Diem, who is also a close friend of Jacob, and his family, who have moved to Eugene from Japan.
After lunch Bob and I drove to Jacob’s house. What a house: a quaint, whimsical cottage, eccentric, artistic, overflowing with treasures, stamped with Jacob’s personality.
And we sat and shared stories. And Jacob told me about the crafting of the Sign.
And though it had been well over a decade since we had last seen each other, our heart’s bond remained. And though our time was short, it was sweet, sweet indeed.
As a parting gift Jacob gave me a treasured bottle of his own hand made Port. He made me vow to drink it slowly, to treasure it, to enjoy it with family and friends.
I drove home with the sign, but with so much more than a sign. For the sign is a symbol of friendship over the years, of love and loyalty and past memories and the hopes of many new memories and many decades more of friendship.