Generally, I am not the type to do the whole this-is-what-I'm-thankful-for sap that I see most people write in their blogs this time of year. However, prompted by this Mod Cloth contest, I realized that this exercise might actually be worth while.
Since moving to Dillingham, a rural Alaskan town cut off from the main road grid (thats right, you can only fly in), I have never felt more grateful for the simple things. This whole Alaskan adventure has taught me not to take things for granted. While living in Fairbanks, I had already learned that indoor plumbing is a great luxury that should not be squandered, but living in a rural community where the prices of food are 150% more expensive than the lower 48, I have been learning to make a lot of items on my own. Surprisingly this is not as difficult as many people might think. Thankfully this is a lesson I will continue to utilize even after I rejoin 'civilization'.
While it is easy to dwell on the little things, I think being removed from my comfort zone has made me realize how wonderfully awesome my friends are. I can't begin to cover everyone in one post, so I think I will break it into several smaller posts over the next few days. I know it is said that you don't fully understand how important someone is until they are gone, and that is for the most part true. Unfortunately, Alaska has a habit of pushing people away.
Several years spent in an Interior town and you forge some strong friendships. Fairbanks especially, drew the outcasts into her fold. We all had a common outlook, a yearning to be a part of something raw, something exciting, something we couldn't find 'Outside' in the lower 48. Because of this shared bond, we appreciated each other, the friendship, more than we might in any other state. Only our Alaskan 'family' knew us to the core and I held fast to that. Still, I constantly worried, knowing one day my new family would leave or I would be forced to leave them. This was true for two of my closest Alaskan family.
The first was Carolyn, truly a kindred soul. She is the sister I always wanted. She is the one person I felt I could share everything with. I have always admired her: driven, immensely talented, and fearless. I miss strolling the ski trails behind UAF or picking blueberries in her 'secret' Salcha spot, always with several dogs happily bounding around us. It has been over a year and half since we last saw each other.First she left for Venezuela to study South American women's poetry, on a Fulbright scholarship. Nine months she would be away. I made sure to visit her there, but two weeks hardly seemed enough. Then she moved to El Paso and had a baby, Esther. I have yet to see my Goddaughter, but I hope to visit for her first birthday in April.
Though it has been some time since we've seen each other in person, I know we can easily pick up where we left off. We will always be family, no matter the distance.
My second Alaskan sister is Nicole. She left a year ago for Montana. The only one I have cried over, like a blubbering idiot, for leaving. Nicole was the first person I truly became friends with after moving to Fairbanks. Somehow we were paired in a biology lab our first year at UAF. The rest, they say, is history. We have been close friends ever since. I have so much fun with Nicole, and it has been difficult being apart. We can be as pissy or as nerdy as we want around each other and not feel judged. I hope our paths cross again for longer than a 'visit'.
I always realized how special these people are and I hope they realize it too. The impact these two wonderful women make on peoples' lives is huge, as it has been for me. There is nothing like a small, remote town to make one feel lonely, but just knowing I have friends like Carolyn and Nicole, I am never truly alone. No matter where in the country or world we may be, they are my kindred sisters and that bond has no boundries.