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Hellos and Goodbyes

Our first family photo

Our first family photo

We are soon going to welcome a new member into our home, a new member to the KNOM family. What are my thoughts on this? Well, I’m glad you asked.

And even if you didn’t, I’m about to tell you anyway.

Of course there are the standard feelings of meeting someone new. Someone who will now become a roommate for almost the last quarter of my time here.  Didn’t we all just get here not that long ago? I have yet to experience summer, as I arrived late last August and time was moving towards autumn. I still have a slew of new experiences to have in the coming summer months. They will be new to her also, but maybe a tad bit different; the place of Nome will still seem very novel to her.

I’m not sure when the mental change of ‘this place being super new,’ and ‘this is just how life is’ really happened, but it’s there, and it’s happened. In reference to Anna Rose’s blog California on how ‘impractical’ lower 48 life seems, it is a new and foreboding experience I almost definitely will have when I leave here.

And so the new vol and I shall have and share new experiences this summer here, however they will be in a very different context. She will not have had nine months of colorful novel fall, deep dark winter, and the strange emergence into spring. It will be a different cycle, a new cycle, where she starts and ends with the midnight sun.

So I’d say I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m interested to see how our lives will all blend. We’ve had to adjust to one another’s habits and mannerisms. We’ve learned to read one another’s body language and silences. We don’t even need to have a conversation to know what one of us is feeling or thinking.

And now we will have to learn another’s habits and mannerisms and adapt. And she will become a part of us. And yet, we are not who she will identify with in the end. By this time next year, we all (or most of us) will be gone (at least from the vol house), and she will have her own Vol Fam to identify with, who she will have shared new experiences with in this once novel and now so regular place.

The memories I first have of Nome will always resonate with these four people still residing in my home. Our family photo of five will come to hang on the Great Hall Wall at some point, along with numerous other family photos of past volunteer groups who have embarked on experiences both similar and different to ours.

So when you go to eat some Caramel Caribou ice cream and all the yummy chocolate pieces have been picked out and eaten, or when that small birthday shindig turns into a larger-than-anticipated gathering; when mud somehow finds its way around the entire living room carpet, and when a very dead fermenting fish in a jar is found in your underwear drawer; when you are so excited for your leftover chicken finger salad and you open the box to only find green fluff remains and the chicken vanished; when your foolish roommate gets stuck up a mountain with a dead phone or another ends your shooting excursion early because of scope bite; when they take your shower time or leave their clothes in the dryer on your laundry day or eat your prepped vegetables…. you’ll probably feel some type of way. But then you’ll look back, and laugh, because those little things don’t seem to matter so much.

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The ones that matter are when you just don’t seem to have the words to explain how you feel, but somehow it’s expressed in perfect monolog all that’s trapped inside your head; when that most special hug is given even though you know that whole ‘cuddling closeness’ thing isn’t really cool; when you’re greeted with a sunshine and a smile because the world is alive and ready for the taking; when you’re given that little wise nudge to get you through those very cold and dark times- those are the ones that really matter.

This past weekend was the first to watch a good friend made in Nome leave, and it only marks the beginning. A few others are slated to move on very soon, and then slowly but surely the other vols and I shall depart. Watching her leave was sad, and it only mad me more sad to think that I will have to watch my little family leave one by one, I being the last to go. However I am happy too; we are all going on to do great things, in a wide variety of places. In way it’s similar to graduating high school or college, or any part of life for that matter- you go through it and at times it’s great and at times it’s not, and at the end you wonder where the time went. You and those you’ve met go separate ways and sometimes you stay in contact and sometimes you don’t, but you will always associate those people with that particular time in your life.

 

I will always associate these wonderful (horrid), glorious (monstrous), divine (obnoxious) people with this time in my life. (Kidding!! Sunshine and rainbows to you all!!) We have had quite a ride indeed, but it’s not over yet. The train is about to pick up a few more passengers. All aboard y’all!