Thursday, April 24, 2008

Defining Moment #2 - Moving to Alaska

As a young child, I lived in several Alaskan towns, including Adak (on the Aleutian Chain), Craig, and Ketchikan. But in 1957, when I was eight years old, we made what turned out to be a more permanent move to Alaska, to the capital, Juneau. And that move was a defining moment in my life.

At that time Alaska was not yet a state and was still considered the "Last Frontier." Juneau had around 8,000 people; was accessible only by air or water (same as today); and was still home to many of the old gold miners, who had worked for the Alaska-Juneau Mine, which closed 13 years earlier. Juneau still had board walks in many parts of town. Although new-comers often complained of feeling "too confined" or "claustrophobic," the mountains, glaciers, forests and water that isolated the town felt embracing and protective to me. In 1957, many people lived comfortably in Juneau without a car; the population was still located, almost exclusively, in the downtown area, since expansion to the Mendenhall Valley hadn't yet happened. As children, we had free run of the town, with one caution, "Don't go down South Franklin beyond Erwin's Case Lot Grocery." That was where the drunks hung out. (Many Juneauites still avoid that part of town, but for a different reason. It is now the tourist/souvenir shop mecca of the town.) I spent many hours, as a child and a teenager, alone with Nature, just sitting on a rock by Gold Creek, listing to the roar of the water and writing poetry; walking a mountain trail, keeping a wary eye and ear out for bear; or climbing through and exploring the remains of mining buildings, which had been overgrown by the lush underbrush of our rain forest.

Saying, "This is who I am," couldn't be done without talking about Alaska. There is a big chunk of me that is, and always will be, Alaskan.

Our move to Alaska, in 1957, defined me in these ways:
  • I prefer wearing clothes that are warm and casual. I'm uncomfortable in fancy clothes or lots of make-up, and am intimidated when forced into a situation where I must mix with people of high fashion.

  • I have no fear of exploring new places, making major moves, or going places on my own. In fact, I find experiences of that sort exciting.

  • When I am alone, I'm not lonely. Being by myself for awhile is how I renew my energy.

  • I seldom let the outside elements (rain, clouds, cold, etc.) dictate my emotions.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Linda, I am finding your "Defining Moments" soooo interesting. You are only on #2, 8 years old, and have already faced some real biggies in your young life...it is amazing. I never experienced either of your first two "defining moments". My parents lived in the same house for 45 years. I think this must be partly why I am your basic chicken kind of person.

Cluck cluck
No pluck!

Gloria

Linda said...

GR! Are you kidding me?!!! No pluck?! Do you remember who it was who taught me that it was okay to return an item to a store?! Re-read my purple shoes post if you want to read about "no pluck!" ;-)

Anonymous said...

I know...I know...but to me that (returning something to store) is the easy-peasy stuff!! Really!! The stuff you do is the adventuresome, brave, guts stuff.

GR