Alaska, Friends

This Alaska

This Alaska place.

I have had a real strong love/hate relationship with it the past year or so. I love Alaska. I love Ketchikan. I love the rain and the beautiful sunny days and the busy summers and quiet winters. I do. But standing by as friends come and go never gets easy. Being stuck on an Island, a million and one miles away from the people you want to hang out with is a challenge in and of itself. You may only be a few thousand miles away -but it doesn’t matter. You are separated by oceans and lands and miles.

Making new friends has never been a strong suite of mine…so being stuck on an island while your friends move in and out of your life is, well, challenging.

I haven’t done much traveling this year, so being ‘stuck’ on the island has taken its toll.

Yes, I love Alaska. But sometimes…

When it takes you 30 minutes to make a 5 minute drive. When you have to stop and go a million times. When tourist literally jump out in front of your car and give you a brief heart attack. When you just want to go into a shop and not see a billion and one faces -many of who you know and many of who you don’t. When you just want a moment of peace -yet there is none to be found…

And then you go for a hike. Into the vast wilderness. The great unknown. The peaceful calmness of the mountains, the silence. The cool wind and the beautiful scenery. The friends.

When you stand in the mountains of Alaska…you feel so small. You realize just how big this world is and just how small you are. You realize just how small your town is, and the problems in it. You realize there is so much beauty -even in the smallness. You are reminded.

This place? This Alaska?

Is quite simply amazing.

Taking in a deep breath of fresh mountain air is sometimes the remedy that can make everything better again.

Alaska

Long Island

Perks to having pilot friends?  Seeing random islands from your childhood.

A few months ago my parents mentioned to one of my pilot friends that I was born on a little island not far from here.  Long Island, to be exact. (Alaska that is, not New York!)

Some 25 odd years ago, we left that little island and moved to Ketchikan for what I am told was going to be a “short stay.”  Yet here we are.  I don’t have many memories of the place -seeings how we left when I was around two, but a few days ago I got a text from my friend with these gems attached:

I’m told that’s where we flew into hundreds of times.  The place of my childhood.  Where my life began.  If you look closely you might even see the beach where we fished…just kidding.  I recognize none of it -but it was still pretty cool, you know – seeing that it does exist and all!

Life

Until Next Time…

When I was younger, making friends was easy. People often joke that I was friends with everyone. I suppose most little kids are. I befriended neighbors and strangers alike. I’m not sure I really had a best friend -because everyone was my best friend. When I got a little older I had a close group of friends.

Then somewhere over the years my friends moved away and I fell into a comfortable area of life where my sister was my best friend (and really, still is). Then she grew up, got married and moved away. While nothing much changed (other than the fact, of course -that she moved a billion and one miles away, got married, has kids and started a life of her own!) I am still here. She is still there.

I guess I lost the ability to befriend everyone.

I don’t remember when, exactly -but a few years ago I had this prayer that I prayed on a regular basis. It went something to the tune of asking for a friend. I specifically remember saying that I didn’t need a bunch of friends -just one. One really good friend. I suppose you have to be careful what you pray for -because sometimes God answers those prayers.

Because I got that one really good friend.

One that quickly became that person that made me laugh. The one that traveled the world with me. Plotted silly things. Watched movies. Hiked waterfalls. That one that you exchange a look with over the table when teaching an especially difficult child -and know that they have your back. Over the years we have shared many different memories. Traveled many different places. Laughed about so many different things. Shared stories. Prayed with each other. For each other. We have shared more cups of coffee than I can count.

Both of our lives have changed over the years, ups and downs -ins and outs.

We started teaching Sunday school this year -in separate class rooms, but with a shared door. Early Sunday morning when I am going over my lesson -the door will slide open and she will march in.

Over the past few years I have stopped praying for that one special friend, and instead starting thanking God for her. Asking that I become a better friend to her. That I can be the same kind of friend to her -that she is to me.

Last year we traveled to England. France. Germany. Italy. And Ireland. We have memories and stories that only need one word to evoke those special times. To make us laugh. Remember.

But the thing about Ketchikan is that no one stays here forever. I knew that when I met her, they were only planning to stay a few years -but I pushed those thoughts aside and instead focused on living now. In the present. Not thinking about that day. Secretly hoping that she would stay longer.

…and then the time came. Where her family announced they were leaving.

It took me a few days before I could even think about it without bursting into tears. It’s hard to say good-bye. I’m still not entirely ok with it. But I am trying to be happy. To know that she is embarking on an adventure that will be filled with so many opportunities. I still get sad thinking about a life without her in it on a daily basis. I still am plotting ways to make her stay. But I am also thanking God for a wonderful friend that has made my life so much better.

A friend who has encouraged me over the years, a friend that God used to answer my prayer. That one special friend who it is hard to say good-bye to.

I’m going to try and be a better friend -a more open, willing, happy person -much like she was. To take these things that she has shown to me -and show them to others.

Thanks for being an awesome friend, Morgan.

Thank you for being a part of my life, and being a wonderfully awesome friend.

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Don’t stay gone too long -there is so much more of the world to see (and so much more coffee to consume!)

Photography

Rainbird Soccer

Morgan invited me to see her soccer game this evening -and I invited Nik along…

Me and sports don’t really get along.  Anytime a ball comes flying my way I tend to scream and duck…I played Volleyball earlier this year -that is the closest to playing sports as I have ever gotten.  I sat in the bleachers and attempted not to scream when the ball went whipping through the bleachers (because yes it did!)

I didn’t really know what I was looking at, but it sure was impressive…

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The last soccer game I was at were a bunch of three year old’s running around.  This game was a bit different!

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Even though I really had no idea what they were doing (I was doing good to remember whose goal was whose!) It was quite amazing to watch all their fancy foot work…

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I am not a big fan of watching sports -but if I had to pick one to watch it would probably be soccer.

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Of course, it could have something to do with the fact that I knew over half the players…but still!  The game was fun.

This was one of the few shots where a majority of the players were actually facing my way…of course it was also somewhat nerving because they were all running towards the bleachers!  Do I duck? Run?  Snap?

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I originally went to watch Morgan play (green team) but I knew half the players on the other (pink) team too…

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Of course it was also fun to watch Morgan get into it!

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In the end, the score was 5-1 with the pink team coming out on top.

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Well played, green (and pink) team!

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Alaska, Life

Sitting in Waterfalls

DSCN4198We walked through the water, and UP the middle of the waterfall.

So yesterday a couple friends asked me if I wanted to go hiking up a waterfall. I said yes, because: Hiking, waterfall, friends…it sounded like a win-win to me. When we got there and I realized that they literally meant –UP the waterfall.  Not beside it, but straight up through the waterfall.  With the running water and all.

A few months ago I was writing a list of things I really want to improve in myself / do. I wrote two simple words: Be Spontaneous. Now I, kind already consider myself spontaneous (with traveling to and fro and what not) but I don’t feel like I say “yes” enough. I don’t feel that I do random things, things I know I will enjoy –because of fear. I hold myself back because I am scared of something stupid.

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So I went for it.  I pushed whatever fears I had that were trying to flood my mind (cold water, getting wet, falling, drowning, etc.)

I climbed the waterfall with them. Straight up the falls. Slippery rocks, rushing water, sitting in the water fall (both on accident and purpose).

…and you know what? It was amazing. It was more than amazing. It was awesome.

DSCN4191The view from the top

As I sat down in the waterfall (because it’s some sort of unspoken rule that after you climb up a waterfall –you have to sit in it) I laughed and said to myself “Sitting in a waterfall wasn’t ever on my ‘to do list’ but it sure is on my ‘done’ list.” It’s not something I would have even considered a possibility (hiking up a waterfall? Seriously?) but I did it. It was awesome. I would do it again tomorrow if I could.

DSCN4190Climbed that! 

I only ran into issues when I realized that my legs were a few inches shorter than theirs and couldn’t make the same steps they could -meaning I had to improvise quite a lot.  By the time it was over I was soaked from the waist down -but it was totally worth it!

This whole spontaneous thing is turning out to be one of the best things ever.

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Here is to sitting in more waterfalls.