Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You Can't Get There From Here, Revisited


I often get emails from people asking me questions about this and that. How long have I lived here? Where am I from? Things of that nature. I love getting emails and answering people's questions. It's fun to hear from people, to know who is reading the blog and where they came from and how they found me. The first year of this blog I did a post called "You Can't Get There From Here". It is basically about where I am from and how I ended up in Kotzebue. I like to repost this at least once a year so that people who are new to the blog and haven't way back to the original post can read it.

You Can't Get There From Here

One of the questions I get a lot, and I have been getting this question lately from people on the blog, is “How did you end up in Kotzebue???" I can understand why people would ask that. After all, Kotzebue is not exactly a place you just happen through. It’s not like driving down the highway, going through Pocatello Idaho and saying “Gee, what a nice place! I think I’ll stick around for a while”. If you’re in Kotzebue it’s because you meant to come here, you came on purpose. So it’s no surprise to me that people want to know how I went from this...
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to this........
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Kotzebue is predominantly an Alaska native community. Roughly 80% of the people who live here are some form of Alaska Native, mostly Inupiat Eskimo. The rest of us come from somewhere else. In my opinion (and remember opinions are like…well you know…) of the people from “Outside”, there are two kinds of people who come to Kotzebue….people looking for money, and people looking for adventure. Most of the people who come looking for money don’t stick around. They make their money and leave to spend it elsewhere. They can’t hack it. The people who come looking for adventure….many of them are still around.

I grew up in Peyton Place. No really, I did. I grew up in Gilmanton, a small town in central New Hampshire whose reluctant claim fame is being the hometown of Peyton Place Author Grace Metalious and the alleged source of material for her book. It’s a nice place as far as small towns go, lots of hills and trees, friendly neighbors, unlocked doors. Typical New England.

I had a relatively normal childhood. I wasn’t particularly fond of school. I usually found myself on the fringes. Not totally an outcast, but not “cool” either. High
school sucked. I hated that place. My graduating class had a 16th reunion last year (yeah weird time to have it). An old friend from high school was organizing it. She asked me if I was going to go and I think I said something like “No offense, but I would rather lick rusty razor blades than see those people again.” I can think of maybe 7 people I wouldn’t mind seeing out of a class of over 135 people.

So after high school I did pretty much nothing. I bummed around in odd jobs, did some college, had some bad relationships, wasted time. I can’t remember when I first started day dreaming about moving to Alaska, but I know I had been doing it for a long time. The idea of Alaska fascinated me. It seemed like such a big wild place, so different than anything I had ever known. I didn’t know much about Alaska, but I knew I wanted to live there. Fast forward to whenever, I happened to run into the sister of an old friend. We got to talking about what we had been doing and what we wanted to do in the future. I happened to mention that I had always wanted to move to Alaska. She said “Really? I have an old roommate that is from Alaska, I should give her your phone number”. I though sure, why not, I handed her my phone number and forgot all about it. A week later I got a phone call. “You should come to Kotzebue, we always like new people around here”. I said to them, “I don’t know if I would be able to find a Job. Where would I live?” They said “Don’t worry, we have a job for you and you could stay with us til you find your own place.” I left the next month with one way tickets.

10 years later I’m still here. This is my home now. I am tied to this land and these people. When I am gone from here it leaves an empty place in me. So while I love New England I don’t really miss it. I miss my family and it is nice to visit them when I can, but at the end of each visit I am relieved to return to Alaska. I like to say that Alaska isn’t just a place, it’s a state of mind.
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Rocksee said...

read this post the last time you put it up.. the idea of alaska always fascinated me as well.. and one day I just made the leap..

you are right to say that it is a state of mind.. it's a hard life to live.. but I love this place. Each day there is something new that amazes me and makes me happy that this is my new home..

Gramma 2 Many said...

Great post Cathy. Once you have Alaska in your blood, you never lose it either. No matter how long you have had to be "outside." I absolutely loved being able to visit Alaska again this year.

AussieAlaskan said...

I lived in Alaska for just over 16 years and I agree with you completely. Thanks for bringing it up again - it is nice to reflect on. AussieAlaskan

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reposting this....yes, it answered SOME of my questions. You really are a pretty good writer and your posts are interesting. Love your photos as well! I've read your blog for many months and occasionally I comment. Oklahoma is a far cry from Alaska and I blog about what my life is like here. Glad to know that you are hardy enough to enjoy the beauty that Alaska offers.


Gloria said...

That is awesome! Thanks for reposting!
Gloria Http:/

justgrams said...

Just started reading your blog and have really enjoyed it. This one sure made me laugh. Living in Pocatello Idaho for almost 15 years makes me wonder why we stopped here to spend "awhile". Keep up the great pics and posts