In 2010 when I made the decision to move out of Seattle and join Adam in Olympia I sobbed for three days straight. No one forced me to leave Seattle, and I wanted to take this step with Adam (plus the whole laid off/unable to find a job helped me make my decision) but I mourned Seattle. I mourned it something fierce.
Two years later when we found out we were moving to Alaska I was excited as all hell, I mean come on, what an adventure (!!!!), but also, I was terrified. I’d lived in Washington since I was 18 and it was where I felt my entire adulthood identity resided. This is where I worked, where I’d found myself, where I’d fallen in love, where many, many people I cared about lived. That last weekend we were in Washington Adam’s parents were visiting and they couldn’t understand why I wasn’t more excited about Alaska. I later found out they were so worried about me and my lack of excitement they believed I’d either bail out and leave Adam, or try to convince him to leave.
But I had to grieve yet again. Closing a door and saying goodbye to a part of myself, to a place I’d thought I could have lived in forever. I was moving somewhere I’d not only never visited, I was moving somewhere I’d never before in my life thought, Hey, that would be fun to live there. You watch reality shows about the weirdos in Alaska, you don’t move there!
Yet here we’ve been for two whole years. I’ve done so many amazing things, from halibut fishing to driving a car down the Denali National Park road spotting grizzly bears and moose from our seats. I’ve hiked to the tops of mountains most people will only see in magazines, and I’ve relaxed in a hot tub while the Northern Lights danced above me. I got engaged on a glacier fed lake shore so far from other people that we spent the hour after our engagement wondering if we’d end up as bear food. I’ve caught salmon from legendary fishing hot spots, sat in the sun on my back porch at 11pm on an Alaskan summer night that never ends, and cross-country skied across frozen lakes surrounded by mountains on all sides. I’ve backpacked on remote Alaskan tundra, kayaked next to a humpback whale, and high fived Iditarod hopefuls as their dog team rushed past.
More importantly I’ve met some of the most amazing people. This weekend was Adam and my last weekend in Alaska. We watched our friend play hockey, enjoyed dinner with friends, and on Saturday opened our doors to friends in the hopes we could drain our liquor cabinet before the big move.
As we laughed and listened to music I caught myself lost in thought. I am going to miss so much about this place, and these people, but for once I don’t feel as if I’m breaking. I have now moved enough times to know that people that matter now will continue to matter. They’ll be in my life, it will just be different. Alaska will forever be an amazing time, an amazing story, and a place Adam and I will always return to when we need a taste of adventure. I know from experience that our new life will be as awesome as our current one. We’ll make new friends, we’ll explore new places, we’ll make so many amazing memories. They won’t be Seattle memories, or Olympia memories, or Alaska memories, they’ll be of the Chicago chapter, and they’ll be wonderful.
I never wanted to be the kind of person who moves and moves and moves. Who gets good at goodbyes. Who has precious, life changing friendships scattered across the country, but I guess that’s who I am.
And it’s sad and beautiful and wonderful all at the same time. Alaska, I loved you and I hated you, and I’ll never forget you.