Thursday, October 16, 2014

Walking (Kind of) Calmly into the Darkness

Slowly, but surely, the days are shortening at the rate of six minutes a day.  I have done the math;  It does not bode well for my sensitive psyche.  I recognize that from now until the winter solstice, I will be in constant search of coping mechanisms.  I've determined that the gym is a better place than the bar to fritter away the darker hours, so am establishing a routine.  I've decided that television may play a role in my life again.  I am comfortable with that.  Everyone says, "The first fall is the toughest."  Since most of the people I speak with have lived here for multiple years, and have not succumbed to hard core depression or alcoholism, I have to trust that there is an acclimation that occurs.

I have committed to playing outside no matter what the weather.  I bought a ski pass.  I've got this thing.  Except when I don't.   For someone who has been prepared to flee at any given moment, who has always determined that I am safe as long as I can put any necessary belongings into the car and drive away?  I've got to laugh at my choice.  I've chosen a place that is more difficult (and expensive) to get in and out of than any before.  I'm proud of myself for taking this risk, but I also recognize that…well, this is a hard core move for a transient creature.  If you're traveling within Alaska, you're just traveling;  If you leave the state, you've gone "outside."  Um, this phrasing freaks me out a bit.  Yes.  It does.  I'm trying to roll like a local, but…

A few weeks ago, I spent the day a writing workshop where we were asked to examine how we interact with the world around us, and also note what the world around us offers up or requires of us…I can't help but note that this environment offers up spaces and experiences that allow me to interact with it in a pretty singular way…

And so, yes, on clear nights, I look up.  Northern lights are joining us.  Stars are fucking startling.  The glacier glows in the moon.  This is just the beginning of crystal nights.  I know this.  Hope reigns eternal that the power of place can override the fears that emerge.  I'm dreaming of cross country skiing on frozen lakes, snowshoeing to remote cabins…and settling in for some good long sleeps…for now I hike boggy trails, breathe in the expansive views, and remind myself that there isn't really anything like this.

I was talking with a colleague last week about how little I'd gotten done since I'd moved here…wondering why I couldn't build community, meet all of the teachers in the region,  teach classes and build a social life in one fell swoop--and she looked startled, and said, "You've been here, what, five months?"  And I felt startled.  She was right.  Reminders.

I'm flying to Anchorage on Sunday, heading to the big city for a conference presentation…and to go to Nordstrom.  Oh, brave new world.