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Life Changes

Tara graduation

Read, type, re-read, proof-read, time check, delete, cut, paste, re-read, type, time check, wipe brow, breathe, delete, delete, delete, type… print. Quad Party, Senior Week, Graduation… undergraduate career: over.

Quite literally… life changes. Day to day, week to week, sometimes even month to month; it may not seem like there’s much differentiation, but it’s there, all the time, just waiting to be recognized.

This time last year I was getting ready to graduate, watching the glory days of student life come quickly to an end. No more constant schedule from the past four years of class, work, fun, sleep, repeat. Plans were set to come to Nome in August, but just what was in store for me felt light years away, as I walked proudly across the stage to receive my diploma.

Zachariah has said time and time again that the first year after college is the toughest. Tough? What’s so tough about going farrrr away from home for the year, living with four perfectly lovely strangers in a very remote place doing something you didn’t know you were qualified to do? If I told you it’s easy, that’d be a lie. But is it worth it? Oh, you bet.

And now I’m here, looking out my window on this May day in Nome, watching big puffy snowflakes fall to the ground, contemplating what the next year holds. I say contemplating rather than wondering, because I do have a slight clue as to what that will be, similar to my situation last May.

May 2013: I’m going to be a producer at a radio station in Nome, AK. Right okay… what exactly does that mean? Heck if I knew.

May 2014: I’m going to be a dog handler (*coughs* *slave* *more coughs*) once again in Nome. What exactly does that mean? Heck if I know.

Okay… maybe that’s a white lie. Having lived through the race season once, I have seen and experienced what dog mushing means to not just this community, but to the region and those other individuals who have dedicated their lives to it. I’ve seen it and done it a few times, but that in no way makes me an experienced candidate.

This past winter, I was offered the opportunity to help our volunteer engineer train for the 2014 race season. I happily agreed. However, due to the unseasonably warm winter we had, there was not much I ended up helping with. With qualifying races now under his belt, he wishes to run the 2015 Iditarod, and is looking for a handler to help train. Or I should say… was.

When I was first approached about this possibility in the coming year, I’ll admit I chuckled a bit. You want me to do what? Come back here… again… endure another winter (which will be just as dark…. probably/hopefully colder)… and run dogs… many hours a day… for the toughest race on earth? Me… completely un/under-qualified… my only selling point is… wait, do I have any? Craziness.

And then I thought… and thought…. and thought…

And I realized I would be a complete fool if I didn’t do it.

How many people get to help train dogs that will trek 1,000-ish miles across the arctic? How many people will actually stand on the back of the sled, being pulled by many much smaller furry bodies? How many people can even fathom what this means?

Before I came here, I admit all I really knew about it was what I’d seen on Disney’s Balto. Looking on that now seems so silly, but for a lower 48er from the East Coast, there’s certainly not much opportunity for dog sledding.

It’s funny how quickly it all happened. One minute I’m agreeing to Nome Part Deux, the next I have myself a plane ticket home for Christmas as part of my contract. Just last week I was thinking I need to get my butt in gear and figure things out- all my roommates had already been looking at/applying to/being accepted to new jobs and programs… and there I was fantasizing about rainbows and sunshine and the wonders that the future holds. Now my future year seems the most solidified of us all. How did that happen??

I attended the UAF Northwest Campus graduation last evening. Graduation ceremonies are always filled with words of hope and promise for whatever exciting things life holds for its graduates. As one of the regent speakers was sharing his bit on the podium, one of his phrases stuck with me…

If you have a choice, take a chance.

I was presented with a choice, and I’m taking a chance on Crazy Adventure in Nome: Part Two. Welp, time to get in shape and do my homework; Nome can’t shake me yet.

^^ Above: some shots of what fall training without snow looks like. ^^

1 Comment

  1. Kion P. on May 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I love you Tara Lynn and this article was enjoyable. Even though, it was all about you embracing further time, apart from us. Hope my commas are right (shrug).