There have been a few misconceptions about my move, and my feelings about moving, that I would like to clear up. Moving is difficult and stressful, and no matter how exciting it is there will be a lot of sadness experienced, especially in those who you leave behind. I have been getting a lot of negative comments when I tell people I am moving to California. They range from "You are going to hate it! You will be back", to "You must be unhappy and you must hate Alaska". I sometimes get, "I'm so excited for you and I wish you the best", though it's much more rare than the former. The four misconceptions are that I hate Alaska, I am unhappy, I don't care about people I love (not quite that strongly, but an underlying current of this idea that people are more important than the place you live), and I will hate California.
First of all, I don't hate Alaska. FAR from it. I was born and raised here. I have lived here for 42 years, minus one year in Hawaii when I was 8 years old, and six months of travel in 2005/2006. Alaska is in my blood and I have deep, deep roots here. Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in the world. My family has been here since 1952 and has a very big presence in Fairbanks. My grandfather was responsible for many of the planning aspects of the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital opening up in Fairbanks, in 1972; he was on the Permanent Fund Dividend Board; he was involved in our local rotary and many other things. There is a "Story Garden" at the local library named after my mother, who was a children's librarian at our local library. She was "Mother Moose" to many, many children in our town. My father ran a business in Fairbanks until his retirement. I could make many lists for many other family members. There are many, many people that I love who live here. The point is, I LOVE Alaska. I really do. I just don't want to live here anymore. I think there is a big difference. My body strongly dislikes the cold, I don't enjoy winter sports (not to mention that it never gets warm enough in the summer to enjoy summer activities the way I like to) and the things I love to do are not as available here. My lifetime dream is not possible to fulfill here. My children are also moving out of the house - two out of three don't live here anymore and have zero plans on ever returning. Alaska is just not the place for me anymore.
I like to think of myself as a pretty happy person. I am definitely far from being unhappy. Before 2005 I would say that I was somewhat unhappy. I hated living here and I would complain incessantly about it. I never let the people around me forget that I did not want to live here. We traveled the country for six months and we stayed with some friends of Martin's for a few days along the way. The wife seriously complained about where they lived and expressed how miserable she was often. I recognized myself in her. I left there totally ashamed of myself. How could I do that to my family? What a miserable way to live. When we came back to Alaska I decided right then that we were making a decision to come back to Alaska, I owned that choice, and I was going to decide to be happy. And I did. I turned to my yoga practice, eventually getting certified to teach. Teaching yoga turned into a desire to get a Group Fitness Cert, which lead to many other things in the general field of health and fitness. I let go of the need to control, spent lots of time with my kids (which I always did), and grabbed as many opportunities that came my way, including a 10 week trip with my kids that included 7 weeks in Central America. I have been very HAPPY. I think there is a difference between being unhappy and a desire to have something different. Just because I want something different does not mean that I am unhappy. It's simply the desire to live out dreams that I have, experience more, and do the things that make me feel alive.
People are very important to me. VERY important. Most people who know me well know this about me. I am very social and I put a tremendous amount of time, energy, and importance on the people I love and care about, especially family. Someone made the comment to me that it didn't matter to her where she lived, but that it was the people in her life that made life worth living and enjoyable. I agree somewhat. I sat with that premise for a while because I wanted to examine my own feelings about whether that is true for me as well. It's not. I have people I love and who love me ALL over the place. They are spread out everywhere. If it was only about the people I would have to live in a different place every day of the week. What makes life worth living for me is being able to do the things that make me come ALIVE, literally and figuratively. It's not here in Alaska. When I am in other places my whole being changes. Even Calista has commented on it because she notices. I am not one of these people who go on vacation and after two weeks say, "That was great but I am excited to get home". Nope. I am usually filled with a sense of sadness on that plane ride home. That does not mean that I won't grieve horribly for the people who I am leaving behind and for all the amazing memories that I have made in this place. I absolutely will. I am tearing up just writing about it. There are many people who I have grown to love and I have family here who I spend a lot of time with and ADORE. It is going to be extremely difficult to leave them behind.
And finally, I will hate California? And I will definitely move back to Alaska? Hmmmmm, how presumptuous of people who know nothing about me. You KNOW that I'm going to hate it there? Especially the traffic, right? These comments are actually starting to frustrate me. First of all, they usually come from people who know absolutely nothing about me and second of all, what is wrong with just being happy for me? I'm living my dreams people!! Contrary to popular belief around here, there are other lovely places to live besides Alaska. And there are a LOT of people who love living in California, including three of my very dear friends from Alaska. There must be something good about it!! We may hate it. Or we may love it. Who knows. Either way, we will experience something new and exciting and we will learn much from it. One thing I know pretty clearly though - it is not likely that we will ever live in Alaska again. Even if I was missing it and tempted to move back, I would not. I have two children who don't live in the state (and have no plans on returning) and I want to at least be close enough to them to be able to visit with them. Often.
The purpose of this blog? Please be happy for me. Even if you are sad at my leaving, be happy that I am happy and excited. It's hard to have my excitement dampered by other's comments. I will be excited either way- there really is no way to damper that. It does not mean that I don't care about you. I do. I will be back to visit. I promise. And my intention is to create an amazing place for you to come visit me as well. Stay tuned.