I’ve been in Alaska almost a month now. Some days it feels like much longer than that. It has been both refreshing and stifling being up here. I’m starting to memorize faces, names, and people’s quirks. I now have two roommates, and thank you Muva Gawd we all get along. They work opposite shifts and I’m the only one on a M-F day time schedule. Some days, our schedules overlap each other’s and we all chat in the kitchen/dining area. I am back into the swing of cooking, even though groceries are MAD expensive up here. Wait til yall see the receipts from some of my market trips! All I do is cuss from the time I go inside until I leave the register! Lmao
Since it’s such a small town, I run into people from work all the time. Glad I get along with most people, cuz I can’t imagine always possibly running into someone I got beef with. Something I mentioned on Facebook earlier is the silence I am growing accustomed to. I’ve always loved living in the city, even as a child. My apartment in Mt. Vernon back home gave me all the city noise I could handle: sad whistles of CSX and Amtrak trains, belching jake brakes, the shrill sounds of the buses lurching to a halt, the whoosh and ding of the light rail, the thunderous subway that rolled right underneath my building. My home in Bethel is not far from the airport, so that’s some pretty regular noise; but I haven’t heard a siren since I left Chicago on Cyber Monday! The plus side to all this silence is that my meditations up here have been nothing short of magical!! I sweatergawd I been on the astral plane! Imagine hearing nothing but the occasional hum of a plane engine, Tibetan singing bowls (my preferred music for meditation), and your own breath?! Yeah, it’s pretty dope.
The other thing that makes my heart feel full up here is the community I’ve quickly grown to be involved with. A woman saw me during lunch break of orientation and invited me to Sunday dinner. I showed up ecstatic to see 3 Black women listening to soca! I was like “whaaaaatt?!” That was such a healing night for me, more than they may ever understand. My feelings were still hurting from the previous day’s bullshit over that blog story (double eye roll axel and dismount). Being surrounded by women who look like me and have so many shared experiences between us was like hot tea, a warm croissant with honey, and a blanket for my soul in this cold, remote land. I’m grateful for them, and for those who have yet to meet us. Sunday dinner and Sunday Fun Day (with another crew of people) are the highlight of my week! That and sleeping in on weekends, since the cotdamb sun don’t rise like nearly 11 am, then sets by 5 pm.
I am hoping to secure other opportunities up here related to my other passions but I’ll speak on those when they happen. Just know that I am always thinking of ways to fully immerse myself up here. I had to laugh earlier cuz in the cab on the way home from the market, I looked up and realized there was snow and ice everywhere around us, and the grass I barely saw was like 500 feet away. The cabbie saw me looking around nervously and we locked eyes in the rear-view. I said “Is that the lake or a tundra road we’re on?!” He laughed and said in an Albanian accent “That’s the lake. It’s frozen.” My eyebrows were in my scalp! I laughed and said “Oh my goodness, I’ve been over this way a bunch of times and had no idea!” So um, yeah, that’s what life is like. Oh, and Saturday night, some friends and I decided to experiment with boiling water and the bone chilling weather outside. It was -16 degrees when my homeboy tossed the water into the air, toward the tundra. IT INSTANTLY TURNED TO SNOW! Glad we recorded that moment; because I’ve seen reporters do it back home but never experienced it in person.
Christmas is next week and I thought I was going to Anchorage to visit my family but them tickets are last minute and it wouldn’t be smart to buy them. Some of the crew here will behaving kickbacks all weekend so I’m sure I’ll have to fun to get into. Oh I forgot to mention that the only store that sold retail beer and wine closed last Saturday, the day after I went! It’ll be reopening in January under new management. Apparently the alcoholism up here is so severe, the community voted to only let the store operate Wednesday through Sunday from 5-8 pm. Needless to say, I was appalled but amused. The day I went, I stood outside for 20 minutes as 20 people were ahead of me and the store only let 5 people inside at max, one person at a time in and out. That was one of the many instances I whispered “Wtf” to myself and shook my head laughing. Several people took selfies of the quickly growing crowd, yelling “Everyone say ‘WHISKEEYY!’ “. Absolutely hilarious. What tickled me most was seeing people ride away on snowmobiles with boxed wine tucked in the crook of their arm. I was in SHAMBLES. I definitely cussed as I bought a 5 liter box of Franzia for $47!!! Everything up here is 2-3x the cost back home because it’s so far away from most manufacturers.
I guess my thoughts on living up here so far are mixed. None of the pros and cons outweigh the other cuz I’m not leaving until my contract is over anyway. Hahaha. I can definitely see how people stay longer than planned but I also see why people want to leave. For now I’m just observing and getting acclimated. This is nearly a thousand words but I had to update yall on my first month in the tundra.
Good night ❤