So, this is it. My last day in Alaska as an Alaskan. It’s been two years, one month, and six days since I first put my feet on the ground in this massive state and looked with the forward vision to see what truly it had in store for me. Nearly 10 hours from the moment I am writing these words I will be walking down a jet-bridge, onto a plane, and begin the a day’s worth of flights that will finish with the pup and I checking into our new temporary home – and importantly our new forever life.
It’s only really sunk in that this is happening the last few days, and you could argue that it still hasn’t sunk in. Sitting here in a Starbucks with a beautiful view of the Chugach Mountains snow dusted & cloud tinted, I am not grasping the fact that this is something I likely will never do again. Sure I plan on returning to Anchorage &/or Alaska again, but … Sit at this Starbucks? See this View? I had to wait out teenagers doing their homework today just to get this view – I come back to this place, and I’ll get laughed off like a tourist.
Maybe it isn’t sinking in because so much is different for this big move than compared to the past — in that it remains surreal. It didn’t help that when I changed plans to fly rather than drive (for reasons I am not ready to blog about) I ended up with an extra two weeks to kill – which gave me ample time to just lose myself in my own head. This job I will start next monday – it’s a big step up, it’s a lot of personal responsibility, it is critical to the company’s (and to a smaller extent, the industry’s) success, but it fits me and my personality so well that it seems like I am going back to what I am good at. Then lump on that I will be moving to one of the biggest cities in the USA, Boston, and not just move there … my temporary home is buried deep into the concrete jungle of downtown Boston. I’ve had this role on my mind since early summer, had this move on my mind for half that, and it always fit into that category of “too good to be true” – so for it to be true is just … I don’t know … surreal.
The tough part for me, though, becomes managing my “not quite sunk in”feeling with honest feelings for those I leave behind. All due respect to y’all I met over my lifetime, but some of the friends I met up here are as strong and as faithful as any I have ever had. To paraphrase from the old joke: I’ve always had friends in my life that would be willing to help me move, but there are some here willing to help me move a body. In the short time I have known them, I have gotten to know people that were truly deep hearted, and truly caring. While rare in many people, it was something I found in a number of friends here. Today, it just feels like it isn’t fair that I leave them now without really returning that same level of friendship, or being the one to be here forever like a friend should.
Then I begin to think about those things I wanted to do, and either was too busy, too tired, or to much of a procrastinator. How I wanted to drive back to Denali again, to do the triangle to Fairbanks and Glenallen, to go halibut fishing, to actually catch something dip netting, to see one more bear.
That’s really where my mind is that I enter this last few hours as an Alaskan. I fight the negativity that tends to find my head – and this time it seems to want to be big and loud. Two years fighting for a job that was never going to be what I hoped it to be. Two years of letting my weight pile back on, and my aches and pains become my excuses. Two years of wanting to do things, but not getting the right kick in the pants to do them. I feel now that I leave here with my tail between my legs, somewhat beaten by time and by the state. It made me wonder if I thought I would have forever to work out all my challenges and overcome them in the great last frontier.
Then I saw a post from my old Band Director (Tom Cook) when talking about something else said this:
“Do be sad that it is over, Be happy that it happened.”
And that’s right!
I did see Denali … I actually saw Denali a lot … average tourists can’t even say that they saw it at all. Sure I didn’t get to drive the big triangle, but I seemly spent every other weekend stopping off at Glenallen to somewhere last summer. So maybe I didn’t catch anything dip netting, but I did go dip netting; and I did catch salmon from a boat; and I learned to fly fish; and I spent a few days on sea out of Seward that I will never forget. AND I did see bears, three of them, momma and two cubs .. Right in front of me … AND NOONE can take that away from me.
In the end, in the great balance of my life, I am going to look back at these two years, one month, and six days as a unique experience full of adventure, happiness, and laughter. All the things I never would believe I would have done, all the things that I would never have seen. How many nights I was blown away by the beauty in this world, how many times I have been fascinated at what truly being away from the common world would be like, or how many times when I not just embraced being Alaskan meant .. but been embraced by Alaska itself. To the last … this Great Alaskan Adventure will be a great time in my life.
So, my time here ends, and whether or not I am ready for it I am going to move … to start a new life. Before I get on that plane, I am going to hang out with one of the best people I ever had the pleasure to meet … and chances are we are going to get nachos .. and I am going to be happy about that, right down to the end …
… to the last.