Leaving Rural Alaska

Josh packed for days and days and days on end.

Our Sleep Number bed, all packed up

The boys' room

Our room
Our bathroom
Our living room

Our dining room

Books for days...
from both Josh's classroom,
and our personal collection.

Our kitchen
The boys' playroom
Marshall, Alaska
The old airport & rock quarry to the left;
The village in the mid-upper left;
The road to the new airport running horizontally across the mid-upper right.
(Photo courtesy of Josh's old coworker)
Picking up Josh for the last time at the airport.
What a relief to be done with that!
And then the boxes started showing up in Washington!


Our time in rural Alaska ended in the spring.  Our house there was left empty, our boxes (24 in total) shipped to us.  Josh beat them home by many weeks.  I have wanted to write this post for a while now, but I can't really put into words what our time in Alaska did for us.  It grew us and changed us in irreversible ways.  It was good and hard and wonderful and horrible.  I suffered debilitating anxiety & depression plus two miscarriages while living on the tundra, but I also rejoiced in being a stay-at-home mom, living in a brand new, beautiful house that I got to turn into a home, and was blessed to homeschool our twins for three years while we were there.  I met and loved and cherished more people than I can count from our time in Marshall, people that will forever be etched on our hearts.  Its confusing to say that some of our family's best times were spent in that village, and then in the same breath to say that it was time for us to leave that place, but that's how life is.

Our boys were ready for more, and our family was too.

We will forever look back on our time there fondly.  Attending Saturday Social every weekend, watching our three blue eyed boys play with a gym full of beautiful brown eyed children whom we had grown to love like our own; cozy Saturday nights spent watching movies with our boys, enjoying pizza Josh made from scratch; Friday night date nights, the boys tucked in their beds, Josh and I together on the couch relishing the quiet... So much family bonding, adventuring and learning.  It feels as if it were all a dream.  Kind of a far away time that has taken on a fuzzy quality.

How did we do it? How did we pack and travel and live like that? How did we manage without a hospital or grocery store? I don't know... but we did.  Somehow that way of life became normal and comfortable.  And I am forever indebted to the way we lived there.  Because now? Now I am grateful for the most trivial things: Consistent internet.  Sour cream.  Fresh fruit.  Walking the aisles of the grocery store.  I am grateful also for our backyard more than ever because of our time spent stuck within the four walls of our home in rural Alaska.  My friend Peter said that the best way to become grateful was to experience periods of deprivation followed by periods of abundance... I find this to be incredibly true. Both in terms of things (mainly food), and in terms of people (ie Josh).  I'm so happy to be living with him again after our year apart.  The small things, like him making the bed so I don't have to, or hugging me after a long day with the kids, bring gigantic bursts of joy, whereas before I don't know if they would have even registered.

When we were making the decision to leave Alaska, it was gut wrenching.  We felt confused and emotional and unsure.  The way I know that we made the right decision is that I am totally okay with being normal, cliche, boring now.  I don't care that we bought a house in a subdivision with a good school and that we plan on putting the boys in baseball and boy scouts.  I don't care that I'm a stereotypical stay-at-home mom who drives a minivan and makes cookies  for an after-school snack.  Settling into this new normal feels right.  I don't miss the adventure, the exoticness of that life.  It was a beautiful chapter for our family, one I will remember fondly, but it's a chapter that has closed.  And this new chapter? It's going to be just as great.



Jerri-Lynn Peterson said...

I love this post. We moved two years ago and I feel very similar with the people I miss and different experiences but know that it was time to move on.

Amanda said...

Beautiful. I have enjoyed following you in both chapters:)

Winter Buckeyes said...

Best of luck with being back in Washington. At least you'll have friends and good memories of Alaska to look back on which is always nice. I enjoy reading your blog.