Jainee Dial is brave. A decision she refers to as "the hardest of my adult life", she'd spent a total of nineteen days with Brad Parker before leaving Portland to create a home with him in the West County town of Sebastopol. This was a first for both. They were admitted vagabonds with dirtbag tendencies, sharing the ability to easily live out of the back of a truck. "We were nomadic and not attached to anything" she remembers. They built a floor lamp together, sanding and staining the salvaged wood. Framed photos began to fill the shelves, documenting the start of an intended joint future. They opted out of the ladder scramble to financial gain, making time to surf, hike, climb, practice yoga and bike. "Nothing compares to the riches of time. Being able to wake when the sun rises and go at your own pace, finding work that is sustainable to your soul" Jainee says, describing their choices. In August of 2014, on a drive to Yosemite National Park, their conversation led to weddings. They lived the unconventional and their ceremony would be no different. Together they climbed Cathedral Peak, both brought to tears by the grandeur. Elated, Brad left Jainee to summit Matthes Crest and fell to his death. Jainee and Brad had been together for thirteen months. Brad Parker had deep roots in West County. He was widely adored and respected for living his message of compassion, bold curiosity and devotion to physical disciplines of the outdoor kind. Many assumed Jainee would depart this area and the memories, but she's now connected on a deeper level. She is held by the farmland and the ocean. The spacious landscape forces her to evaluate the truth of her circumstances, without distraction. Ask her how she feels, she'll tell you "like an infant." She can't discuss the future, except as it relates to the B-Rad Foundation, an organization created in Brad's memory. Focusing on the Foundation's projects steers her away from the myopic tendencies of grief. "There's not a place that he isn't" she states, reflecting on the daily balance of staying present and taking comfort in nostalgia. On her own path to honoring Brad, in the cradle of the community, Jainee Dial begins.
The smell of eucalyptus is pure West County to her.
She notices couples, in her process of looking for joy.
We all have our backroad and her's is Bay Hill in Bodega Bay....barreling down, music blasting, in search of good surf.
Needing a new morning routine, she's been heading to Hardcore for coffee.
She doesn't enjoy many long phone conversations, finding them disingenuous.
Her epitome of West County dining is Jenner's Cafe Aquatica. "The food is rich but simple and there's a discount for locals. On the back porch it's idyllic, watching the kayakers, sea lions, cows grazing."
The sight of roadkill is a reminder that death surrounds us, a symptom of her heightened awareness.
She has a weak spot for Peter Lowells. "We ate there twice week, became friends with the staff."
The word she picks for West County is abundance. "Because this place offers so much, it allows me to live simply."
She owns an electric car, which she loves, though admitting "it's not practical, unless you have a back up vehicle."
Her favorite beach "will remain a secret."
She makes return trips to Yosemite, her location of heart healing power.
Vertex Climbing Center in Santa Rosa has significance. "I make it a practice to purposefully go to places that are difficult. It's only through experiencing what scares us directly, that we're able to free ourselves from suffering."
She walks into the closet to hug Brad's shirts, even though his scent is gone.
The B-Rad Foundation is her sign of hope, knowing Brad's legacy, the Young Explorers Grant, will get kids outside, camping and climbing the areas that hold his spirit. "As Brad would probably say...help us do the shit that matters."
Images and Interviews by Michelle Pattee