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Once Upon a Time to Happy Thereafter

Once upon a time, I arrived in Nome and met the four eleven people who would be my friends and co-workers for the year. When we five volunteers rode back to the house, Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Could Happen” played all the way through. We drove around the town, and the reality that these were my roomies and soon to be friends set in – and we knew that Anything Could Happen.

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This year has had its ups and downs, it’s lightness and its darknesses – as all years do. But the love and respect of the KNOM volunteer “framily” has been constant and supporting through my whole time in Alaska. Though I’m leaving for parts warm and desert-like, the warmth of the framily is of a different sort. It’s that warmth that has gotten me through the chill – making the sub-zero temps be an exciting adventure instead of a frightening reality.

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And now that the temps continue to drop, it’s time for another framily to form. It won’t be the same – but nothing in life is the same from year to year. Emily and Anna Rose, and Zach, and Tara, who arrives today – possibly even as you’re reading this – will bring their own takes, their own energies to KNOM and the Volunteer House – and that’s wonderful too. It’s so strange to bond with these wonderful people, just to be ready to leave in a few weeks – but already, the camaraderie and energy is palpable.

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In a strange way, it’s as though I’m leaving KNOM as happily-ever-after, keeping my memories of Alaska alive in my mind, but for you, the story continues. Paul Harvey, the famous Michigan broadcaster, used to run stories with his famous twist in the middle: “And now, the rest of the story.” Perhaps one day, we’ll be able to share the rest of our stories with each other – what’s happened in Alaska since I left, and what I’ve experienced since leaving. With the internet, I plan to stay connected, but there are many stories that don’t make their way across the web. And it’s Alaska, after all – anything could happen!

Each year KNOM volunteers pose for a family photo. They line our stairway. This is our photo.