Winter solstice wishes
Happily Hitched in the Last Frontier
I'm writing this on the ferry from Sitka, on the winter solstice, a point in time during which we as individuals and communities reflect on our life, and hope for the rebirth of our light.
My family spent the last week memorializing my brother-in-law who died young and unexpectedly. He lived his life in Sitka, among his family, friends and the fishermen of Southeast Alaska. He reflected a life lived in a community.
There is nothing like an untimely death to make one review one's own life. Who would come to my funeral and what would they say about me? Will I die living my life and living my potential, or will I die wanting or waiting for some other life? Will I have met my soul mate?
In November, MSNBC listed the top 10 places in the world to "hook up." Juneau was No. 4 behind Amsterdam, Buenos Aires and a cruise at sea, but ahead of Las Vegas. I love Juneau, but I must admit that's a head scratcher.
I've partied in Las Vegas, and Juneau on the solstice, sliding around in the twilight, bundled in polar fleece and rain boots is no Las Vegas. But like those other cities, Juneau is extreme. That part is true. I suppose we're even like a cruise ship in our isolation.
Juneau has extreme weather cycles and it's expensive to live here. But it's also one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Our quality of life is unique and undeniably good. But living up here, away from "civilization," seems to trigger a massive case of the grass-is-always-greener in us.
Twenty to 30-year-olds are disappearing like Steller sea lions. Alaskans ping-pong back and forth between the Lower 48 and Juneau. They breezily say goodbye as they head for the excitement of commuting at a crawl past endless strip malls and anonymity. But when they realize that their only experience of nature is the picture they put on their iPod, they bounce back.
There are pros and cons to living any place on Earth. Juneau is small, you are visible, and people really know you - the good and the bad. It can be messy and tedious. You have to learn to get along because you belong somewhere. But because Juneau is small, you can make a difference.
In Juneau you don't have to dedicate a whole weekend in death-defying traffic to get in a few ski runs. You can slide over to Eaglecrest or go ice-skating, in a matter of minutes.
We have waterfalls, glaciers, Eagle Beach, Sandy Beach and False Outer Point. We have bonfires, beer and Frisbee dogs. We have nightlife and wildlife, as well as biking, hiking and good theater. We have high speed Internet. We even have an airport with big planes that can carry you out for a few weeks when you think you can't take it anymore.
So my solstice wishes for all of us are old clichés: that we live each day in pursuit of the things that matter to us; that we are content right where we are; that we do the work we love; that the people we love know it; that we all do as John Mayer says, and say what we need to say; and that the returning light brings peace.
And since this is a dating column, I hope you remember that you live in the No. 4 hook-up spot in the world and ask that person out. What are you waiting for?