Talkeetna, Alaska — part 1
“Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Why did I go to Alaska? In short: I had nowhere else to go. I had just fired myself from a job I hated in Chicago. My new contract in the Florida Keys was not starting until six months later. I had an ex-husband in Boston to whom I had just given the last of my savings in exchange for my cat and a quick divorce. I had no home — just a bag with clothes, a laptop, and Bonito, the cat. I also had a new boyfriend and a lot of emotional baggage. He was spending six months in Alaska and invited me to join him. I had nothing going on. And my baggage was weighing heavy on my shoulders.
The boyfriend was the outdoorsy type and seemed to have no worries in his mind. Our trip to the Everglades where we paddled, camped for the night, and looked together at the starry sky was still fresh in my memory. I was not ready to let go of that feeling of simplicity, of communing with nature without a rush. I wanted to have a little more of it before probably going back to a miserable existence. A distant land, a secluded cabin, a carefree man, seemed like the perfect recipe to heal my soul.
About the baggage: my father dishonored me when I confronted him for lying. Putting up with his lifetime of lies to my mother was one thing. Realizing he had used me was too painful to come to terms with. In the confrontation, he threw his phone across the room and expressed regret for “giving affection” to such an ungrateful child. My mother’s abuse towards me I saw as a result of her inability to be happy. I still talked to her frequently, for no other reason than keeping her sane — it felt like my responsibility.
I got on a plane to Anchorage carrying Bonito with me and from there, the boyfriend drove me to Talkeetna. The road was long and I was exhausted. We almost lost Bonito at a gas stop — he tried to run away, stressed from the flight. We arrived at the cabin where we lived for the next few months: big enough for one double bed, a small table, and a shelf. It had a thermostat, newly installed by the landlady. There was no running water — for that, we had to walk to the main house, which boyfriend showed me right away. The larger place had a full bathroom with a shower, washer and drier, kitchen, and a large dining table. It also had a cozy corner with a TV hooked up to a DVD player, leather couches, blankets, a collection of DVDs (of course), and a few books.
I was embarking on a new adventure — my life was a collection of those. This time, I had a purpose. I wanted to find myself — because I was lost. I wanted that simplicity so I could go back to my essence. Living in a village, no wearing makeup or dressing up, eating fresh and walking to the local library for a few hours worth of wi-fi usage, asking if I could be of help at the local businesses so I could make a little cash: that was the whole plan. And maybe that plan would transform me, recharge me, and allow me a new chance at happiness.