Talkeetna, Alaska -part 2
Alaska is on the northwest extremity of America’s West Coast. You can take an air taxi to Talkeetna or, you can drive two hours north from Anchorage, as we did. The old truck was missing a muffler, so the shaky trip did not allow for a nap — every bump on the road was a jump.
We made a stop to sleep at someone’s house — a young gentleman who had a spare bedroom. Although the boyfriend described him as a friend, we would never see him again. Exhausted as I was, I could not sleep. In the morning, I suggested we skipped any sightseeing and headed straight to our place so I could get settled.
From the airport towards the Matanuska River, driving past Wasila and Willow, the view was pitch black. The sky slowly turned from dark to grey and from grey to blue by the time we left the highway. The T junction is marked by a road sign that points to two opposite destinations: Anchorage, which we were coming from, and Fairbanks, located another four hours further north — but we were not going there.
At the sign, we made a right turn to take Talkeetna Spurr Road towards where I was going to live. I was impressed by so many trees and no light poles. Was it true that many people in Alaska lived without electricity? Or was the land just scarcely populated? I saw the abandoned cars by the roadside, giving the scenery its unique identity — Wild Alaska is known for its “dead cars,” which people dispose of quietly when they break beyond repair. The cars were a metaphor for how my marriage ended — I was silently forgotten somewhere I could be seen with light curiosity: “What is she doing here?”
We arrived at the village called Talkeetna, where the population was eight hundred and seventy six. Except for Summers, when outsiders like us would move into town in search of adventure or a hospitality job. The place nests behind Denali, North America’s tallest peak — the magnificence of the views bring tourists to the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, where the boyfriend was the Bell Captain. The cabin he rented for us was outside of the Lodge property. The landlady, Dee, lived in the mobile home steps away with her several cats — she did not live at the main house, which was the designated shared facility for her cabin tenants.
I took my polka dot dress out of my bag: it looked expensive but, it was cheap and comfortable, made of a stretchy but breathable fabric. It was perfect: I could sleep in it and walk to the main house in it — it did not look like pajamas. Not that Dee or our only other neighbor, Joe, would mind — Joe used to walk to his cabin wrapped at the waist in a striped towel from showering at the common area.
That form of solitude was new to me. A new reality where societal norms were slightly different but built on the same foundations — which I was yet to define. I worried I could lose myself in that place, in that dress, by that man.
I did not want to love him. Love hurts, lets you down, changes you. Most of all, love is dangerous. It may transport you into someone else so deeply that you may indeed lose yourself. Although I was afraid, it might be too late.