Scripted Story

10:30 at night. I had a goal to have three blog posts by this time of night, but then I walked to the kitchen to make tea two hours ago. And Carinne was making stone soup. And then we just talked about the politics of our project and the politics of the world for the next two hours.

Worth it, but not sure if I can get more than one more blog post in tonight, as my eyes are getting heavy, and the sky is getting cloudy, giving the illusion of a sunset.

After work I wrote a bit, and was frustrated that the words weren’t coming easily. I had so much to say, but it felt like my words and thoughts were not lining up.

So I went for a jog.

I proceeded to depress myself a little more with the jog, as I creeped myself out with the vacant boardwalk by the lagoon, and imagined myself walking this alone every night for the next month.

I could walk with others, but I really like to get away on my own. And so I guess I’ve got to learn how to feel comfortable in this area. Polar bears and all.

That, or I get used to walking with my friends.

Jogging over the boardwalk, the wooden boards swayed with my weight as they floated in the water. The trash, so much trash.

Today, I asked Laura about the fatality rate here among tourists. I could see it being an adventurer’s hotspot– lots of people coming here and doing stupid things on the ice. And around the wildlife.

She said actually there was not really any of that. To come tour Barrow, you really have to have money. It’s $900 to fly from Anchorage to Barrow in the summer. And so all the tourists that do show up here are usually in fancy track suits, and are just here for a day and a half. Just long enough to take the $100 “tundra tour” up to Point Barrow, and back to settle into their $500 hotel.

There’s not many crunchy adventurers that are able to make their ways up here. Thus there are not many crunchy adventurer tales of the area.

Which is pretty cool. We are neither outback adventurers, nor millionaires. Yet we get to experience this place.

Laura was mocking the tourists’ reactions when they get to Barrow, “It’s so gross. So brown. No roads. So much trash. Such a gross town.”

I realized as she was saying this the similar sentiment I had held in my blog post from yesterday. A tourist’s reaction that shrugged a shoulder at digging a little deeper. The desperation and despair at no easy answers, and something not seeming as pure and straightforward as one had expected. I guess I had wanted this place to be black and white: either modern, or traditional. I couldn’t just take it as it is. A mix of things. A contradiction of attitudes. A real, beautiful place to slow down and listen to.

On my walk yesterday I saw a little girl pulling a handmade wooden toy boat by a string around a snow puddle in a yard. If I was a photographer, I would have had to snap a picture. No name brands, no plastic, no pressure to be anything other than it was. It was so organic and original and simple and beautiful. Her little brother was sitting on the step behind her, just watching.

And then yesterday at the college, I saw kids driving around in fancy electric toy cars.

“Most people see a scripted Alaska. They don’t see this,” Laura said about the tourists that pop in, and leave with a bad taste in their mouths, but a check mark next to flying to the top of their world.

I would like to learn to see Barrow.


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