Stepping off the plane in Anchorage for the third time since I moved to Nome was a little surreal this time around. The Starbucks next to our gate was a little less exciting, the amount of strangers around me was weirdly unsettling, and the mountains were, as usual, breathtaking.
I guess it’s sort of unusual to leave Nome for the “big cities” as many times as I have this year (for various reasons: between news reporting, journalism-conferencing, and concert-going). I am so grateful to have had those opportunities—which on their own have been amazing, and collectively, have given me more perspective on where I live now. But I’m a little jealous of Courtney, who is actually the only one who hasn’t left Nome other than traveling to our surrounding villages since last summer. At this point for me, I think the shock has worn off just a little. As exciting as it is to get back to the city (my natural habitat), I think now I have a good grasp of what I’m leaving behind and how valuable it is.
That said, our trip was fantastic. We obviously went to Costco and marveled at the low prices and towering pallets of food. Being in the mall was kind of gross—and I was too overwhelmed by the selection to actually purchase anything besides the bare necessities. We sampled a ton of delicious foods and strolled the city streets in a happy stupor that only two New Yorkers who’ve been living in a small community could appreciate. But then we realized we’d forgotten how to cross streets with traffic and felt like we’d forsaken our identities a little.
Visiting Talkeetna was also a blast—a fun and beautiful drive, with so many trees! It was awesome to see the variety of environments in this state—the same state that boasts a frozen ocean with 2-hour-long winter days can also hit 80 degrees and sustain such a wide range of animal and plant life. It was amusing to see tourists who were visiting Alaska for the first time with their windbreakers and fancy cameras. Not gonna lie, I felt pretty cool running around in a T-shirt, having learned from the real Alaskans in our town what “cold” really feels like.
The Head and the Heart concert was just wonderful. We even ran into a couple of friends there, and listened to “Rivers and Roads” while hugging in the shadows of the mountains. Our final day of the trip was perfect, catching up with former KNOMer Zachariah Hughes and practicing the art of packing totes to bring home. When we boarded the plane for Nome, the pilot laughed at me, “You’re in a good mood!” It was hard not to be after such a lovely weekend adventure, but my deep joy was mostly for returning north: to our roommates, old and new, and to all the people we love in this endearing town of Nome. 🙂