I will write more about Alaska later, when I have a little more space in my head to think things through clearly. There are pictures to share, funny stories to tell (note: cleavage is involved), mountains, people, and aloneness. I had a beautiful trip.
It takes a long time to get from E's house outside of Denali to my house on Chicago's north side. Last year it took me twenty-two hours and involved at least five different vehicles; this year was relatively painless at a measly nineteen hours of travel time. There was a five-hour shuttle ride to Anchorage, followed by several hours of downtime (I'll admit: I got a little bit drunk at the Chili's at the airport. What else was there to do?) before watching the sun set as I took off to fly to Minneapolis in time to see the sun rise five hours later, and then on to Chicago where I took two trains in order to arrive at my own front door just as a thunderstorm was about to begin. I was exhausted and dirty, too awake to sleep and too tired to think, and so instead of being productive I checked my email.
Facebook may be much maligned but I appreciate the fact that, if nothing much else, it allows us to reach across time and space to occasionally make connections that might otherwise never happen. It made it so that I could receive the following message from a friend that I haven't spoken to since high school, which he has kindly agreed to allow me to share here. I can't adequately express what it meant to me to read this, to feel that sort of line thrown out from a relative stranger, in the aftermath of a trip to a place that always makes me re-evaluate my life and what I love and why. Thank you, Eugene.
I write to you from the little desk among the dirty mountain bikes, new camping supplies, greasy work benches, and myriad bits and pieces eloquently squeezed into the little store I work at and we affectionately call the Willamette Mountain Mercantile.
A little break in foot traffic allows me a moment to check into facebook, and via facebook, your blog.
Thank you for sharing, for writing, for keeping it real as they say. Reading about getting lost on your way back to E's from the Salmon Bake took me back to 2002, when I was camping in the rain after an evening at the Salmon Bake. I cherish Alaska for its lack of human markings, its complete stillness and solitude. It is good that there are a few places left where there isn't a 24 hour store nearby to stop in to for directions.
I went on to read your posts about your trip to Flagstaff, and your reflections on where home is, and what that means to you. Along the way I found the Portland cartoon, and reflected on the similarity between our gender identities, and our human identities as we search for that elusive place called home. It seems that what we're looking for is a place, whether politically or physically, where we are accepted as we are, allowed to be our unique selves, comfortably surrounded by supportive community, yet free to explore our individuality.
I think that as the definition of what constitutes a home shifts, is questioned, is re defined, the definition of love, and of personal identity is intrinsically interconnected and must also shift, and vise versa. It is our challenge, as individuals who don't fit into the old patriarchal heteronormative paradigm to create the lives that we dream can exist, and the language to describe that which we dream of and create. Thanks for pushing that front.
Love from Oregon,