When Leslie Taylor says she believes Cannon Beach is the most beautiful place in the world, she can speak with some amount of authority.
As the child in a military family, Taylor has had the chance to seen many corners of the U.S. and Europe. Some of her fondest memories as a child are spending Christmas and New Years Day in a remote cottage on the English countryside, sledding on moonlit nights through the forest and camping with her family throughout Scotland and Wales.
But even those experience pale in comparison to the feeling Taylor felt when she visited the coast. One day, after hiking to the top of Neahkanie Mountain and staring out over the coastline, Taylor made it her goal to retire in Cannon Beach.
“This place is magic,” Taylor said. “Tears came to my eyes, because there are some things you can’t speak...there are no words. I thought to myself ‘if I could ever live here, that would be amazing.’”
This year, Taylor retired and finally made her dream become reality. But the path that led her to Cannon Beach started in earnest about 40 years ago in the Middle East.
After high school, a spontaneous 18-year-old Taylor decided to take an adventure to Iran — an adventure that eventually led to her meeting her husband, having her son and making a life there.
Taylor had moved to Iran a few months the beginning of Iran-Iraq war in the early 1980s, with much of her experience being colored by the conflict. Living in the county’s capital of Tehran, Taylor didn’t always feel the effects of the war.
“But there was a period of time they were bombing us, and that was pretty scary,” she said.
After six years, Taylor divorced her husband and moved to Washington state with her son to be closer to her father and start anew.
Because Taylor spent the majority of her young adult life in Iran, moving back to the U.S. felt like a second culture shock. After living in a war-torn nation ruled by rations, she remembers feeling awestruck by the sheer amount of stuff available at an American grocery or retail store.
“Over there, if there was one banana you wanted to be the one to get it, so you rush in and be the one to get it,” Taylor said. “I remember walking into a store and realizing ‘Oh my god, I’m in America now. There’s plenty of stuff, I don’t need to rush.’ That was one of the first realizations I wasn’t in the Middle East anymore.”
Taylor eventually decided to enroll into a vocational school, which introduced her to the idea of becoming a clerk at U.S. bankruptcy court — a job she worked for more than 31 years.
Taylor enjoyed her work for the most part. In comparison with her other experiences around the world, she always found it fortunate that her home country had a system available to relieve people of their debts that wasn’t debtors prison.
But one of the most difficult aspects of working for the courts was seeing the same people abuse that system, she said, repeatedly coming back to her office.
“That was sad to see,” Taylor said.
These days, Taylor can be found volunteering with the organizations like the food bank and the history center — or, if the weather permits, walking along the ocean that drew her to the area in the first place.
“I’m so excited to be here,” Taylor said. “I love being on the edge new things, a new life.”