Weather Report

We have been home almost two weeks now, and I think we are just beginning to feel the delayed adjustment pains. Both kids have been challenging, the 2yo fussy like he’s sick but he doesn’t appear to be actually sick. The 4yo sensitive like only a daughter of mine could be, and reverting to 2yo style screaming fits– except so much more sad and personal. She needles me and needles me and needles me until I finally get mad and blow my top, and then she wails with wounded fury. She said the other day, “When you talk so mean to me, I think you don’t love me.” And although the whole of it is obviously a composed plea for my attention, focus and care, that end point of rejection is painfully uninvented.

For my own part, the back pain that started a few months ago has reared it’s ugly head again. It’s hard to patiently lift up your 4yo who wants to be carried to quell her Lost Home anxiety when your back is already screaming it’s own song. My Man keeps saying, “Just rest it” and I give him a big ole middle finger.

I have started working already, earlier than we’d planned, but only one day/week. We are strapped for cash in this after law school, before taking the Bar limbo. I was filling out the paperwork for Medicaid yesterday and it asked for level of schooling completed for both adults. Mine was 12th grade, which looked about right on a form for government assistance, but when I wrote out “law degree” for My Man, it seemed a bit silly. But how is anyone supposed to make this gap between school loans and steady income when graduation culminates in two months of intensive study for The Biggest Test of All? At any rate, my job here is the most basic sort, working the till and milkshake machine at our local taco joint. I realized the first day that the work was strangely similar to what I am used to– cleaning and service. But, the ability to carry through with each task is a pleasure. None of the customers (so far) hang on my leg and cry.

My emotional homecoming has been unexpectedly complicated. I’m not sure I can even suss it out yet. It feels good to be back, but I feel I am a bit ruined for the weather here. Talking about weather sounds like a joke, but it’s in fact most definitely not. This place is incredible– beautiful mountains, thriving wilderness, old fashioned small town community, the best salmon in the world. But it all comes at a very direct price. 100-160 inches of rain per year. That’s an average of more than ten feet. And cold rain, an average June temperature of 50 degrees. Farenheit.


The bad weather largely accounts for those good things I mentioned though. The mountains are so striking because they are young and raw, so recently exposed by glaciers that are still only ten miles away. It’s that same enormous pack of ice that makes the river so cold, which in turn makes the salmon so extra-ly luscious with fat. The wilderness is intact because the town is small, and the town is small because the weather is so shit. Between the weather and the remoteness, you have to be devoted to this place to live here, which makes for a very special community.

Every place has trade offs. New Orleans was balmy and lovely for many months of the year, but I had a friend who’s neighbor was shot in his own front yard while his kids watched because he was trying to help someone who’s car was being stolen. I feel like I could take any number of cold rainy days to avoid that creeping fear in the back of my throat.

I am having an awkward time synthesizing these two realities. New Orleans felt real and normal (by the end anyway) and I worried that it had changed me, changed my expectations for normal, that I would feel lost and adrift after the move. Of course the minute we got back to Cordova, the town we had lived in for seven years, the house we had lived in for almost five, it also felt absolutely real and normal. Everything was just the same and I fit right back in as if I had never left. But my brain is simply not big enough to synthesize those two disparate realities. Only one of them can be right, making the other a ghostly dream.

It’s going to take some time to pick it all apart.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures of my new old Homeplace.

the view out our window, where I drink my morning coffee
rediscovered treasures
a few of my overgrown garden beds. that’s creeping buttercup. the wickedest weed this side of the state line. still, nothing compared to three years growth in New Orleans.
i hope to recover and plant two of my beds this year, although it’s already quite late for planting here. just carrots, kale and peas, and the carrots are a gamble.
our second day home, a friend brought over a freshly caught copper river salmon fillet. with potatoes and fiddleheads, a meal of the goddesses.

12 thoughts on “Weather Report

  1. Moving anywhere is hard. Moving to or from Alaska has to be the weirdest transition ever, however. It’s just so different from anywhere else in the U.S. that it seems surreal. I’m having an odd time transitioning back just from a short visit to Hawaii, let alone a move. Give yourself time. It’ll feel real and home-y again soon. Good luck with the kids!

  2. Beautiful detail of all the things that you are dealing with right now. Transition is hard, but with time it will definitely feel like home to all, including the kids. Hope your back gets better, the kids adjust, and you have a lovely summer. It must seem surreal.

  3. Moving is soo hard, I agree. Not everyone can do it but we made the conscious decision not to have children until we had both finished all our degrees and internships, etc then chose the place we wanted to settle and moved there. The 3 children have grown up in the same house but we have still managed to show them a good portion of US and Canada on vacations. But a home base is nice.

    Course this makes us a bit older than most of our children’s parents, but so.

    I see our children heading the same direction. One is married and they are both on master degree now, another in a committed relationship and doing same.

    I though maybe you had someone living in your Alaska home while you were gone. But no? Will you get a garden in? We had a frost/freeze warning last night not too far north of us. That looks like a lovely dinner your friends brought you. Good luck.

  4. So good to hear and see from you again! That view from your window is fantastic – I am a bit envious right now. I hope you and the kids make it through the transition phase well and soon. I also hope that your back improves quickly! And good luck for the garden!

  5. i like to think our nomad children will find their own compass. but, yeah, right there with ya on the adjustment period. i think our blood just needs to thicken up a bit. kisses to the settling children.

  6. Oh brrrr, I have goosebumps. Talking weather never seems strange when you live in the UK, trust me. Is it predictable? We have crazy days- leave the house in the hot sun, and end up soaked through and shivering. And what is your daylight like, on this longest day? That’s what I find the hardest about winter. I can manage the cold, as long as the sun shines, at least a bit.
    Henry’s coming up to 4, and at the depths of tears says, “Does this mean you don’t love me anymore?” Twist those knives, kids!
    I love the idea of carrying through a task. You do make me laugh, my dear.

  7. You know what advice we’re all going to give – TAKE IT EASY! Just sit and soak it all in. Perhaps let yourself take it in as if you’re doing it for the first time rather than feel you have to feel as if you’ve been there forever and it’s home. I find it very odd going back to London which feels so familiar and yet I can’t remember how to get somewhere all of a sudden or I can’t remember the bus numbers. I just say ‘It’s OK that I can’t remember. I am a Londoner but it’s been a while’ and then I enjoy being an almost-tourist and seeing things in a fresh new light and try and dwell on that fun rather than the uncertainty part. Good luck!

  8. I forgot just how good your writing is, and how it speaks to me. I had a bit of a detour a while back, but I am glad I found you again.

  9. remember the power of NOW, which is really what we have. Your children might not be feeling the love right this very now, but when we can feel it out here in the webscape, I have all the faith in the world you will be and are just peachy!

  10. Transitions are hard for everyone, no question, but especially when you have little kids to manage, who can’t really understand the what or why. As I was reading your post I thought of this post – although you haven’t moved ‘abroad’ it’s really a similar experience I think:

    “When you live abroad, you realize that, no matter where you are, you will always be an ex-pat. There will always be a part of you that is far away from its home and is lying dormant until it can breathe and live in full color back in the country where it belongs…. You cannot be in two places at once, and from now on, you will always lay awake on certain nights and think of all the things you’re missing out on back home.”

  11. When my daughter was a toddler, I ended up going back to waiting tables at night so that I was home with her all day and her dad was with her at night. I had the same realization you did about the taco stand – I was doing pretty much what I did at home, only no one threw food at me, there were no meltdowns about making them eat something they didn’t want to and I could hand off the dirty dishes to a dishwasher. I miss that job.

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