Updated: May 25, 2020
You may have already read, Rachel’s Alaska story, so now it’s time for mine…
TLDR: I got a great job and figured why not?
For the long version, I should start with my general gypsy tendencies. From a young age I was itching to get out of my small Texas town. I wanted to go places where I didn’t know anyone and they didn’t know me. I started off in Virginia for undergrad and then stumbled around the southeast for internships and law school. While my wanderlust was pervasive, it was rather regionally limited. Other than a study abroad to Europe and vacations here and there, my life largely remained in the southeastern United States.
A dear long-time friend of mine made the rather insane (or so I thought at the time) decision to pack her life up and move to Alaska for an *awesome* dream job. One day she was a downtown Houstonian with a closet full of pencil skirts and stilettos and the next she was wearing fishing boots (see xtratufs, an Alaskan wardrobe staple) and holstering bear spray (also necessary). Both shocked and impressed, I had to see this change for myself. One spring break, while my classmates slathered on sunscreen, I packed my fuzziest socks (which were still insufficiently warm) and took a quick trip to Anchorage.
I was overwhelmed. It was so shockingly beautiful. While break-up, which typically occurs in March and April, gets a lot of flack for being the “crappy” time of year, I love it. The snow is still packed, but there’s plenty of sunshine. I fell in love with Alaska my first trip up here, in early March.
I came up to visit thinking that this was my one and only chance to see Alaska. I figured my friend would only stay for 1-2 years (spoiler alert, she’s on year 5) and that this was it. I enjoyed my time and went home feeling as if I checked something off the ole bucket list.
The next spring break came, and I visited again. I got to talking with a friend of my friend and she offered to help me get an internship at her firm for the summer. I was elated. I got the internship and spent an AMAZING beautiful summer in Alaska. I made insane memories that summer, from traveling to Cordova and renting a PT cruiser with bald tires to taking a float plane to Angoon to visit clients.
After that glorious summer, Alaska just got stuck in my mind. There’s so many fun facts! And so much about this state, this state that is just as much America as Virginia, or Texas, or California, that is so fundamentally different from the lower 48. I kept falling deeper and deeper in love with this weird place. But again, I continually thought of it only as a place to vacation--I could never actually live in Alaska, what kind of crazy person would do that?
So it came time to apply for big girl jobs. I applied to a position that was worldwide. In an effort to increase my chances of employment, I chose to keep myself open to any office in the world, from Kabul to New Orleans. A few weeks after my initial interview, I got a call from the Anchorage office. They asked if I would be willing to talk about the possibility of moving up to Alaska. I wasn’t sure, because again, who just picks up their entire life and moves to Alaska? But I figured talking wouldn’t hurt.
Needless to say, I got the second interview, and then the job, and then they moved me up here to Anchorage.
But why did I pick Alaska, after all I’d already checked it off my bucket list. While I had gyspy tendencies, they were regionalized and I was always a quick flight away from my friends and family. Anchorage is a 4 hour flight to Seattle and then you have to go from there. You’re usually at least a day away from anywhere else.
Why did I pick up my entire life and move it to Alaska, like a crazy person? Because I wanted to be around Alaskans.
I moved to Alaska because where else would I get to live downtown on a recent grad’s salary? Where else would I be able to paint on my front lawn at 11:00pm on Tuesday in July? What other community would love me so openly, be there for me as I transition from student to adult-ish.
Alaska has a slower pace. Its focus isn’t on material wealth or coastal success. Alaskans want you to experience life, in all of its beautiful subtleties. Whether those subtleties are the way that ice slowly forms in November and melts in April. Or the swirls of tides and movement of the gulf coast brackish waters as they meet and mesh together. Or of that color, that pink, rose gold, yellow, orange, blue, and white, color that the sky is at 3:00am on June 19, just days before the solstice.
After undergrad and a grueling law school experience, I knew I needed Alaska. I needed to stand at the base of old mountains and to know that they were literally bigger and older than all my problems and fears. That they had been here longer than anything that I could think of and would outlast any impression I made on the world. I needed to not care about my hair or my lipstick when I left the house. I needed to join a fitness community that was focused on health not waistlines.
I chose Alaska because I got a great job offer that came with a lovely please-move-to-Alaksa bonus. But I also chose Alaska because I knew that in my first years of real adulting, I wanted my priorities to be the priorities of Alaskans. I wanted to care about my neighbors and my community more than I cared about myself.
So here I am, in Alaska, like a crazy lady, and I know that I wouldn’t be happier anywhere else.
Is Alaska forever? I don’t know. But Alaska is my beautiful, humbling, life giving, now.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. All statements are from personal experience and reflect the opinion of the author.