And it happened on the most beautiful day we’ve experienced here so far.
Sunny and 48 degrees, the snow is melting, and the little delicate birds are hopping about on the water.
Brunch today was so good, and so filling. But I have this sense of difference between us and the native culture here. And I’m not sure how I feel about it.
I don’t want to be this touristy person who comes into town with a mission to snap pictures and take notes on traditional ways of life. But then again that is exactly part of what I want to do.
The other part of what I want to do is really connect with new people, though. And I sense this hesitation in the vast majority of the population here. I have met some really open people, but I would say that they are probably anomalies in the grand scheme of Barrow.
I love connecting with people instantly, but I feel that the culture here requires a much longer commitment to gain trust and respect. They have tourists, scientists, anthropologists waltzing in here from every corner of the globe every year, begging for insight into the culture. And I feel as if I am a sort of continuation of this. And I want to set my experience with the people here apart from that somehow.
I’m just not sure how, yet.
Which is probably what I’m beating myself up about today.
So now I’m just hiding in my room and trying to make sense of my life.
I think the team is feeling cabin fever a little bit too. There is absolutely nothing open on a Sunday here- the library and exactly all three restaurants that we can’t afford are closed.
I’ve made a makeshift desk on the floor of my room using a coffee table. I have tea and honey and the windows open and my world blanket spread out around me.
After brunch I took a nice two hour nap, awaking right before my alarm went off. I feel like Alaska and the constant daylight has made me more in tune with my internal clock somehow.
But then again not really. It’s eight thirty at night and I still feel like it’s the middle of the afternoon.
We all do.
The boys are over right now, and in our living room. I can hear laughing, but I just don’t really feel like going out there right now.
After my nap, I draped myself over the chair by the living room window facing the cemetery and read a book. Jess checked out some books by Simone de Beauvoir as well as her biography yesterday, and she tossed it to me.
I couldn’t get into it. I felt like I needed to write, or to be meeting people, or to be joining an intense yogic retreat.
But really, I just need to learn how to take time to relax.
My jog was great. I took the road down toward the main part of town, by the seaside. Terrified for my life a few times, I do not think I will be jogging on muddy streets again- ATVs and trucks driven by kids in the single digits seeming to zoom around every corner.
I followed the big gas line to town– raised high above the frozen ground they are a scenic fixture of the city, as well as the signs warning of buried gas lines in front yards, less than a foot below the tundra.
It took me about ten minutes to jog the length of the town, from by the airport where we live to the seaside where the library is. And then I went horizontal along the shoreline, and walked on the boardwalks created to help with the mud and melted ice pools throughout town.
And then I walked back through the center of town– on a dirt path through the middle of the various melting lagoons.
So much trash and pollution in the lagoons, the melted snow and ice forming lakes under houses with trash flowing under as well.
As I said yesterday, this is not your city. This is not your suburb. This is not even your rural town. This is something else entirely. Feel like I’m across the world.
The way I walked back from the lagoon, I had to walk past this big smoking factory that’s to the side of our house, on the face of the lagoon.
I have no idea what is going on in that factory, and I probably don’t want to know. The smell of the pollution filled my mouth as I walked past it, and lingered in my mouth for the next ten minutes or so.
I saw two delicate birds hopping around in the snow doing a mating dance by the factory. The birds here are so full of energy, and like little snow ballerinas. I checked to make sure they didn’t have three heads from the pollution. The birds checked out okay for the time being.
Back at the apartment I saw a pair of ducks waddling through the cemetery before I turned my back to the cloudless, sunny day and unlocked the door to our humid apartment complex.
And now I’m back here, like I said, sitting on the floor of my room with my new coffee table office.
And I’m going to go make coffee now.
Writing has helped with the cabin fever for the time being. It always seems to make the world a little bit bigger and more manageable when you write about it.
Still so thankful to be here, but just realizing the reality of the situation a little more today as I slowly get off the tourist bus and begin to live here.