I am only half-way done with my Alaskan travelogue. The drive was something, but settling into this strangely remote place was another thing entirely. Jon settled right in with ease, but in the beginning I still felt prickly about being moved up here against, perhaps, not my wishes, but my finest and brightest dreams. I didn’t know anyone, had no real occupation, and knew nothing about this place. My sense of location was gone: north always seemed east, and where was my familiar Western history of cowboys, pioneers, and Route 66 when I needed it? I had entered a history not my own, but of dog-sledding and gold-panning. Also, I missed really good Mexican food. Besides, winters were too long, and summers too short. I do not enjoy feelings of up-rootedness in the least. I am neither a world traveler or, alas, a salmon fisherman. Oh, like most people, I imagine myself liking to see new places, but to be honest, hotel rooms always smell geriatric to me (like the solvents used to clean hospital rooms and old-folk’s homes) and I heartily dislike being treated like a tourist, even though I obviously am one at those times. Well, now you know how small my travel-soul is. Take it or leave it, or rather, take me or leave me.
At any rate, I found life here difficult. I was only just willing to continue here for my husband’s happiness and because he really wanted his job with the Municipality to work out well. I consoled myself with picturing a growing paycheck, a car that didn’t squeak heartily when you brushed against its rust-colored exterior, a lovely house with a backyard (and perhaps abstract art on the walls—the only visual evidence of my rebellion), and beautiful suburban children. The American dream is not that bad of a dream, you know. It’s just not usually the one you start out with back when you feel younger, hipper, and more adventurous.
But Jon and I knew very clearly by now that this was the place for us. We had prayed, and felt directed at every turn along the way. There was no going back. This is why it was so hard when Jon was transferred out of his dream job and into a less dream-like job with the Municipality. Alaska was no longer “the promised land.” We questioned why we had come all this way only to fail (as we thought then). Over the past two years, we’ve come up with some possible answers: maybe we were supposed to be here for family reasons, church callings, or even just to meet and be around certain people. I’m feel the premonition that we won’t be here forever, even though I’m sure I’ll dig my heels in when its time to leave. So the question at the time was, why here and why just now? What was this all leading to?Well, I can with hindsight say this: I think nowhere else would we have had the incredible familial and community/church support that we found here. As evidence, I go to church on Sunday and I can’t get out of the building because of all my well-wishers. I even had the nurse from my OBGYN’s office call one day and say she’d heard the news at dinner the night before. Also, where else would our insurance be so amazing? Or the medical facilities, paid for by oil money. Also the very capable doctors, one of which is here apparently for the fishing? Where else in the US is the economy still going so strongly? Specifically, what about my brilliant neuro-surgeon, who is only here so he can spend more time with his family? Where else could a small-town girl have gotten to know so many people all over the city? Let this be a lesson to us all, when God tells you to go somewhere, then do it. You’ll probably come out ahead in the end. And you just might end up calling the place home and loving it—but it might take 2 or 3 years if you have a sour traveling spirit.