If you recall, last month on April 6, I wrote about 406 Day. April 6 (4-06) reflects Montana’s sole area code and thus the date is embraced by the state. In my blog post I mentioned that while the day is important to me since I lived in Missoula for eight years, you won’t see me calling in sick to celebrate it—the true Montanan spirit just doesn’t dwell in me.
Today is another day associated with an area code but this one resonates a little more with me. In eastern Washington, the date of May 9 (5-09) is also known as 509 Day. Unlike how 406 Day represents an entire state, 509 Day simply carries the banner of a specific region. But that region happens to be where I was born and where I have spent more than 60% of my life.
Although the 509 area code encompasses more than half the state of Washington geographically, it is claimed with the most passion by Spokane. As a born and raised Spokanite who now resides here once again after a 15-year hiatus, I have a genuine pride for those three numbers. Did that pride burn intensely in my soul when I left the state as an 18-year-old? To be honest, probably not. But after all those years of being away and noticing from afar that I didn’t live in such an awful place, the digits started to mean a little more to me. Especially when I would make the immediate association of “home” when I would receive an incoming call and “509” would be flashing on my screen.
Hell yes, I would wear a shirt with 509 embroidered across the chest if I had one. In my mind, 509 means four unique seasons. It means some of the best college basketball in the country. It means Bloomsday, which I just participated in last week. It means Hoopfest, which I will lace up my sneakers for next month. It means media outlets like the Spokesman-Review and KXLY. It means Riverfront Park, Dick’s Hamburgers, and Jack & Dan’s. It means coffee stands on every corner and pot shops in every strip mall (not that I am proud of that one). It means Macklemore’s “Downtown” music video which to this day I believe screams Spokane better than just about anything else. It means lilacs, a garbage goat, and the Davenport Hotel.
It means home.
“The 509” has a certain attitude. It is realistic, knowing that Spokane is a mid-sized city that can’t necessarily compete with its big brother, Seattle. But at the same time, it is content with what it can offer. The 509 isn’t too out of touch to poke fun about itself and acknowledge its shortcomings but at the same time it clutches a deep sense of community pride. To put it simply, the 509 is down to earth.
And, just like the area code that I proudly claim, I am a down to earth dude. Without hesitation I salute my fellow 509ers and enthusiastically celebrate 509 Day. Now pass the cheap beer. Don’t Blink.