Sunday, November 18, 2007

Learning what?

"Elituq" means quite simply, "she is learning" in the Dena'ina Athabascan language, a tribe that resides mostly in the areas around Anchorage and to the South.
I have found that the past five or so years have been filled with the kind of learning that either makes you go crazy, or forces you to begin some level of insight into who you are.
My husband and I (along with Wolf, then 9) were married in 2003. At the time, we figured we would stay forever in our little town on the North Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. Yukon was employed by the National Park Service, and I was the Director of Development for a small but thriving long-term-care organization under the Episcopal Church. Life was full of the sweet outdoors, wonderful friends, and a great neighborhood. We were at the top of our game.
But the Park Service, under new and ineffective management, sucked the energy and the inspiration out of Yukon and he began the hunt for further employment within the Federal System, of which I knew almost nothing. Now an at-home mother/writer, my days were spent in an almost catatonic, glazed-eye stare at the computer screen, looking through the Web site for interesting position descriptions with the Feds. I felt that was the least I could do; to find us someplace that was at least kind of exciting.
So we went to Charleston, South Carolina. One of the most "interesting" places for someone who had never lived in another state but her own. The South is a blog unto itself, and I shall not go into great detail here, but for the record, let me state that the things I learned about raising children in 100 degree heat and humidity, and fire ants, and avoiding hurricanes, brought me to a whole new plateau of self-actualization, i.e., actualization that I KNEW by the Fall of 2005 I could not manage to spend one more summer in that state. Yukon agreed, and 18 months and one extra son later (Bear was born in Charleston in October of 2004), we flew up to Anchorage, Alaska just in time to see 2006 ring itself in.
I know where I fit in, and where I do not fit in; the South made me feel like somebody transported my body to Mars one night while I was asleep and left me there all alone. From the second I stepped off the airplane in the smallish Anchorage Airport (named for our now almost-busted Senator, Uncle Ted Stevens), I was home. The air felt crisp and cold, the mountains were turning pink in the late-afternoon alpenglow, and folks there did not give a rip about where we were from or who our people were.
Quickly, I had to learn how the Government helped one to establish housekeeping when you do not have a house. Thankfully, the folks at the Residence Inn (I would HIGHLY recommend this facility when you visit Anchorage) welcomed us with open arms and a nightly happy hour, allowing us a brief hour of sanity after a day of searching for acceptable neighborhoods intermingled with trailer parks (a common sight in Alaska). A good thing, too, as we stayed there for almost two months while the wheels of the government slowly ground forward. Patience, for those of you who know me, is not a strong point of mine, and it took every ounce of willpower not to call up the Move Assistance (HA!) folks in Texas and give them a piece of my mind on a daily basis. This is why I married Yukon, his patience level is enough for the both of us.
I also had to learn a few things particular to Alaska, and these gems of Northern wisdom I will share tomorrow, for all the new and potential Cheechakos (greenhorns) who may be reading this.
I leave you with a Dena'ina saying.

"Chin'anguninyu", Thank you, that you have come here.

1 comment:

ppolo said...

Thank you for a perspective that I hadn't heard before. I will look forward to future readings....