Alaska and I have a complicated relationship this winter. We're that couple you invite out because you like each of us individually, but then once we've been at the bar and had a few drinks suddenly we're in a fight. Again. Heated conversations everyone can't help but watch. But then we're hugging and saying our sorry's. We're ok, but then we're not, and then we are and no one can keep tabs anymore and it's best just to look away when we're near.
I was in Salt Lake City last week for work. Attending/exhibiting at the Outdoor Retail show, which if you enjoy anything about the outdoors means I spent a week seeing what every major, minorly major (yes I just made that term up), and tiny outdoor brand will be putting out in a year. It's like outdoor Christmas. Especially the part where everyone is selling something you can't buy yet at like 110% off and the part where there is free beer everywhere from 4-6. Want to come with me next year?
After an exhausting week in SLC I finally boarded my return flight. I was ready to be home again. See Adam, see the dogs, no longer live out of a suitcase, but I was also playing the pity me game. If I didn't live in the fucking Arctic this trip would take me 2 hours to get home instead of 8+. When you're in a complicated relationship with your state, being snowed in at the SLC airport after a weeklong conference Does. Not. Mix.
While waiting for my next flight in the Portland airport, my flight that was 4 hours later than I should have been getting in by the way, I again cursed Alaska.
If I lived in Seattle I'd be home now. Four hours late, but still only 7:30pm. Not getting home at fucking 2am in the fucking morning and having to go to fucking work tomorrow fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.
I bitterly boarded my flight. Settled in.
After four hours in the air we were instructed to turn off our electronic devices, and in the dark cabin I found myself looking out the window at the towering Alaskan mountains. It was a full moon and every mountain, every valley, every peak was glistening in the moonlight. I was exhausted, but mesmerized.
Well before we'd come back upon civilization I suddenly spotted something. In the middle of a towering mountain range, tucked into a valley in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness there was a light. It glowed brightly in the vastness of the Alaskan wilderness. A beacon of civilization in the middle of that wild.
I watched that little light as we passed over. Imagining who this might be. Tucked so far away from everything but shinning so brightly.
It was haunting and beautiful and everything that Alaska is. Civilization tucked amid a wilderness so vast it seems impossible one would ever spot a light shinning within the dark forest.
In that moment I apologized to Alaska. Our relationship is complicated and messy and we're in a rough patch right now, but like any relationship, right when I think I know everything about her she surprises me.
Catches my breath in my chest, and just like that, we're right back where we started.