Twenty-one days. I have been in Nome three weeks and yet I feel as though I have been here much, much longer.
I had to continually remind myself on the plane that I was doing it. I was leaving the only home I’ve ever known to spend a year in Alaska. Most people thought I was crazy. I didn’t care. This is the one thing I knew I wanted to do. Yet on the plane, I had to keep reminding myself: “This is really happening.”
I stepped off Alaska Airlines and was warmly welcomed with a giant blue KNOM sign and a group of happy, helpful people who would soon become my roommates, co-workers, and friends. They were anxiously awaiting my arrival like a family, complete with smiles and hugs and hands to help with my luggage. I thought things like that only happen in the movies; already I was in the midst of an enchanting beginning. Since then, I have done and seen and learned so much, at times I was worried I would not be able to hold all the information I’ve been trying earnestly to take in.
I knew my title and position of Inspirational/Motivational Producer before I arrived, but honestly didn’t even know what it meant or involved until my first shift. Audition, NexGen, spot writing, audio recording, potting up, potting down, update news, weather, current conditions, hotlines, announcements, DJ-ing… and those are only the ones off the top of my head. My brain was saturated with new information, a sponge attempting to soak up all fluids possible. Two weeks of training later and I am still taking it day by day, learning the ins and outs of a producer and the technicalities behind the position. I have come a long way since my first shift, thanks to the extremely supportive staff who are always ready and willing to help. At times I feel as though I’ll never understand it all, but then someone will ride in on a white horse and not save me from my mistakes, but have me learn from them.
Besides the working part of our days, the other volunteers and I have begun our adventures on The Last Frontier. Everything from berry picking to fishing, bathtub and prom dress and rubber duck races, dance parties and walks along the beach, hikes to abandoned gold dredges, bike rides to old WWII planes, and mushing along the tundra via ATVs. I can walk out of our house and see vast the Bering Sea to my right, and an endless cascade of mountains to my left. A short walk toward the sea brings me to Front Street, the finish line to the Last Great Race, the Iditarod, come March. And when I am not doing or seeing or learning about all these amazing things, I constantly stop and remind myself: ‘I am here. I am in Nome. These people, this view, this place, is real, and I am living it.”