Monday, November 11, 2013


K i s k a I s l a n d
I've been wanting to write a blog post about how contented we are to return to rural Alaska --- the little things: daily life on a smaller scale, Alaska on a larger one, and the specific blessings of the Mat-Su Valley. Wasilla is a great fit for us. Add to that the accessibility of Anchorage (church, Costco, the quiet thrill of feeling like a complete yokel, standing in Snow City CafĂ© in an ankle-length skirt while my husband's pickup truck idles in a no-parking zone...) and it's even better.

Wasilla doesn't ring 'rural' Alaska to the casual glance: the commercial real estate is charmless, the streets stretch beyond view in every direction, coupled for an effect that's much the definition of unchecked urban sprawl. Those who know say it looks like Anaheim, California in the 1970s, development-wise. I don't think we have a zoning board. And I'm pretty sure we collectively don't want one.

It's not utopia --- franchise businesses are outpacing mom & pop shingles, and we're touched by every kind of depravity you'd find in a larger town. So while the aesthetics might belie the quality of life available, I have so much happiness (happiness is different than pleasure, correct?) at a gut level about being here. We loved our five years in Anchorage, to be sure, but the wideness of the sky and the smallness of the human community here is a joy.

It's little things, mostly personal and petty, but these offer a sense of permanence. Alaska can be a transient place to live (I'm often in the minority for being native to the place), so finding pockets of generational grooves means something, socially and spiritually. This past Memorial Day, a friend with roots here whispered as we watched a huge group gather around their family graves. She ticked off the businesses owned by them, collectively. It felt like being slipped the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. All of that exists in any city, of course, but you can't be from nowhere and wander into it as easily. I am from nowhere, compared to this population hub of AK (Wasilla, Palmer + surrounding areas comprise the fastest growing section of Alaska, by quite a margin) and my husband is from Orange County (truly Nowhere, culturally, hahaha), yet we've wandered into a close-knit, ever-expanding circle of friends who are like extended family to us. I trust that one hundred years from now, God willing, our babies will know their babies.

A big source of Alaska's revolving population is the military. Today we honor their inexhaustible bravery and sacrifice. And, while on the topic of the Valley, a link to today's newspaper front page. Did you know that my state has the highest per capita population of veterans? I've met so many aging vets who say they were stationed here long ago, and returned with their families as soon as possible, upon retirement. We're thankful !

{One more link}

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