August 20, 2014. Noon. That’s when I board a plane and say good-bye to Nome. That’s my expiration date.
I’ve been saying I have three months left. I realized this weekend, scrolling through my calendar, I have two.
And suddenly, things I have not had to worry about for almost a year have stepped into sharp edged focus. Finances. A job. Insurance. A place to live. An idea of where to live.
KNOM shielded me from all that, taking care of housing, budgets, transportation, job training. It creates this cozy pocket for volunteers, taking care of every material worry, so all we have to do is wake up, walk the 20 feet to the station, and do our work. Little enters our personal bank accounts, but while we’re here, we live like kings.
In two months, all that coddling will end. And what I’m doing next and where I will be is a big fat question mark.
Needless to say, I’ve been going on a lot of runs. It’s gotten to the point where instead of feeling anxiety, my brain bypasses the stress and just starts telling me to move. Because when I’m running, I can’t job search. And when I get back, the world is possible once again, and life is a precious gift to be nothing but wholly loved.
So what do I want to do? Well, ideally I’d travel the world, holding a mic, interviewing people and sharing their stories. But I’ve been looking into jobs with work descriptions much broader and not necessarily resembling that. At the beginning of this search, I kept thinking with every job flashing across my screen, “But I’m not qualified for that!”
Then I realized, of all the jobs I’ve had, KNOM was the one I was least qualified for. I had never been to Alaska. I had never done radio. I had never reported news. But I learned.
“They hire you on your potential,” Dayneè told me when I first arrived in Nome, describing the KNOM employment process.
Last year, living in California, wanting to leave theatre, all I could think is, “But this is all I know. This is where all my education and training has gone. I can’t do anything else.”
Then I realized, if I’m done at 23, I might as well dig my grave now. Because a lifetime of decisions and changes is just getting started.
If anything, this experience of KNOM has taught me that I can learn. But it goes beyond capability. KNOM taught me or perhaps forced to be very comfortable feeling very uncomfortable.
This high threshold for discomfort has less to do with temperament and more to do with time and time again, me blinded by enthusiasm, throwing myself into situations where the water is over my head and the bottom is out of sight. KNOM saw that card and raised me, baptizing me by fire, every day, for months—moving to rural Alaska, reporting news, interviewing strangers, traveling the bush, attending seemingly impenetrable meetings— each action pushing that threshold for discomfort a little farther away.
I am still going on runs, but not because I think I can’t do something—get a job, move to a different city or country, feed myself. But because after KNOM, I can do anything, and the world is so big and life is so short and I have to choose among the magnificence.
So as I run, I repeat two quotations. The first from my Godfather, paraphrasing Mother Teresa, “Pray for trust, not clarity.” And the second from Mr. Rogers, “You rarely have time for everything you want in this life. So you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.”
And then, eventually, I’m not thinking. I’m just moving through Nome. Past the hills. Past the ocean. Through the midnight sun. Amazed I get to take part.