Last Saturday morning as I crawled out of bed and rummaged through my social media notifications from friends in more civilized timezones, I tossed out the idea of a blog about the urban Alaskan experience. This was followed immediately by positive reception and encouragement to consider a series of posts. So, here I am. These blog essays are going to be relatively short and focused on one general topic. As I proceed through my stories of the Urban AK experience, if anyone has a story to share, I’ll post it in the series.
I live in Alaska because this is where I grew up. While I wasn’t born here, this is home. From my earliest memories until I was about ten, I lived in Anchorage then we moved to Wasilla. My college years were spent in Fairbanks with a couple summers in Seward. After college my wife and I moved to Maryland for a year then we were back to Seward, then Anchorage and finally Wasilla, in the home we’ve lived in for twelve years.
Even though I wasn’t born here, I don’t remember the time before and so I consider my year long adventure in Maryland as the only time I’ve lived out of state. While I’m about to go on in a whole pile of posts about how much urban Alaska is just like everywhere else, I’d be lying if I tried to tell you moving from Fairbanks, AK to Ellicott City, MD wasn’t a shock to the system. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but there is a real, tangible difference between east and west coast culture.
The truth of it is that I had a great job in Maryland. It was super interesting, paid well, and had excellent prospects for advancement and long-term career stuff. However, neither Stacy or I could handle the bustling ocean of humanity or the unfamiliar pace of life. After several months, we started looking around us and gazing into the future in that lazy manner twenty-somethings do. It’s a place we’d have to go at some point, but not just yet. In that gazing, we realized that life was going to be more or less completely unlike either of our childhoods. We weren’t going to have a cute little house with a creek out back and maybe some chickens and things. Living in Maryland meant we’d be crammed into a row-house, neighbors stacked so tightly on either side that we might as well be dried, salted, and packed in oil. Even then, it still took about a year before I realized that happiness wasn’t going to be in work. We were also going to have to be happy with where we were. So, we packed all of our things into our Subaru and a little trailer and scuttled back up the highway. Neither of us had a job, our savings amounted to just enough to get us through a month, and yet off we went.
Of course, we found good jobs, a nice house with the creek and eventually chickens. Really, we could have gone anywhere find this. Even in Maryland, had we really really looked and made some concessions, we’d have found something similar, but the pull to home was strong and so here we are, and hopefully, here we stay.
Next up: What’s it like to live in Alaska?