Twenty-five years of the Source Weekly means a regular ebb and flow of staff. There have been several editors, hundreds of journalists and a constant flow of sales reps. However, the two owners from the beginning, the two that always have managed to quietly massage their paper forward, are Aaron and Angela Switzer—my lovely parents.
- Angela Switzer
I have always enjoyed the story of them growing up and meeting, so for the 25th year anniversary, unbeknownst to them, I took a trip home to
report and secretly publish the story of how they met and got married.
“Angela met Aaron in 1983 when she was 16. They went to the same high school here in Georgia,” my grandma, Kay Sanders, reported over the phone.
They grew up a block away from each other in Tucker, Georgia. There’s old stories of them sneaking out at night, meeting in the middle of the kudzu forests and braving cottonmouth snakes. They both dated throughout high school, my dad more of the troublemaker—my mom the quiet opposite.
They separated after Angela got into Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Aaron went to the University of Georgia. They remained distant friends for years, keeping in touch on occasion.
“Even though he was far away we always kept in touch,” my mother Angela explains. “He’d visit with friends, we’d meet in Austin, Texas, or even Mardi Gras; he always had a great way of making sure we
In 1986, Angela was in Salem, Oregon, working an internship, and Aaron had recently “left” college.
“Your mother had a different boyfriend at that time, they were sea kayaking, living the dream,” Aaron describes. “I remember I was still at home, working fast food, and I remember telling myself, ‘I’m not going to be average!’ I was 20, and I didn’t really have much of a plan for what I wanted to do. I was biking a lot from Athens, Georgia, to Atlanta. I remember thinking to ride across the country would be the same as stringing together a ton of these rides—but I really had
At the start of October 1986, getting dropped off in Tennessee, he began the 2500-mile journey, solo biking to the West Coast, dragging his long, thin body through the country with his bike and a tent. The stories mirror Jack Kerouac’s cross-country adventures—the dividing line between the East of youth and the West of the future... camping on the side of the road, moving through each state in a slow rhythm.
When I asked him what he did when he wasn’t riding, my dad said he read a lot, moving from the Russian classics; Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, into the Victorian era of Dickens and Brontë. “I loved the Victorian period, I read all that stuff,” my father explained. “I also had six cassette tapes and a Walkman—I listened to a lot of Kate Bush.”
After several months on the road, he finished his trip at the door of my mother’s apartment in Salem. My mother still had a boyfriend, but my parents hung out nonetheless.
“She had such a bright future going on; I didn’t think she wanted anything to do with me,” my dad remarked, “So I left her my bike—I was so romantic back then, then took the Greyhound home, it took four days. I was so broke; I left with literally $5 in my pocket.”
My mother tells the story of their time in Salem together a little more optimistically. “When he left, I remember thinking, that’s pretty special. He rode across the country to see me. I thought I probably shouldn’t let that go.”
In the following year, Angela wrapped up school in Dallas and Aaron lived in Atlanta; reading, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and saving up enough money to fund cross-country bike trips through Europe. They kept in touch until finally, legend has it, my mom visited Aaron’s apartment in Georgia, but their time was cut short by the arrival of Aaron’s new girlfriend. “After the trip across the country, I had been trying to move on,” my dad explains, “but I secretly always liked Ang.” This brought some immediacy into their time together. It wasn’t long until they finally started dating again.
In 1990, after being together for a couple of years, Aaron proposed a bike trip down the West Coast, starting in Florence, Oregon, and finishing in Cabo, in Mexico. “I wanted to do this trip with him, but I hadn’t done much biking in my life,” my mom mentioned, “but Aaron told me you get in shape on the road. He just kept saying it would be fine. For the first part of the trip, we rode down the entire Oregon coast and it rained almost every day. Aaron was in way better shape than I was. I wouldn’t say I liked it at first—plus Aaron didn’t stop to enjoy the scenery. We’d climb up a mountain and he’d wait two seconds and then ask if we were ready to keep riding. But he always stayed pretty close next to me, and we’d talk, and he took most of the gear at first, so that made things easier.”
When they rode into Yosemite, Aaron sporadically proposed on top of Half Dome. “I was surprised,” my mother said. “I remember telling Aaron, I’m only 23, I got so many things I want to do, I don’t know if I can get married yet, and he said, 'OK, I’ll just do those things with you!' So, we decided to get married.”
My dad confirmed this is actually how they spent the first years of their marriage together. The two moved to Bend, then Portland for a couple of months, then back to Bend, then Boise, Idaho, as Angela bounced between work as an archeologist. In 1994, during their three years in Boise, Aaron started his master’s at Boise State University studying Victorian Literature. He was also working as a journalist for “Boise Weekly,” along with writing manuals for the printer company HP. In 1997, Aaron was awarded his master’s and the two would move to Bend to immediately start the Source Weekly—and 25 years later they still work in the back room, operating their local paper together.
As Aaron put it, “The great thing about your mom was, I followed her around as she did all the things she wanted, then eventually it was my turn, and I took