The number of weeks I have left in Alaska. Well, give or take a few since life can sometimes have its own timetable, but approximately one year from today we will be pulling up stakes and moving on across the waters to Kauai.
I drove to work this week thinking of the number 52 in my mind. That if things do fall out the way we’ve projected, the end of May will be when I formally close my practice, and we will go jump on a plane with a couple of dogs and a temperamental calico cat—an image that has me shaking my head when I think about all the hoops needed to jump through to make that happen.
Moving is hard enough, but moving to an island feels extra challenging. It’s huge massive change, so much so that it’s hard to wrap my head around the amount of letting go, and goodbyes, and leave takings that are going to take place in the next year. Let alone the details of selling a house and moving our stuff and closing a long term practice.
And all the unknowns! What we will do when we get there, where will we live, how will we live? I can only imagine how sparse things might be for awhile, where luxuries like travel and going out to eat and buying that new pair of shoes will not likely be possible until we get our feet underneath us.
But I’m counting on the beauty of the place, and the fact that I can go sit on a beach whenever I like, to make up for any lack and help me see there are greater things than money that constitute lack. Like not listening to the call of your soul, forcibly smothering your courage, turning down your own volume of voice that urges you to go.
It can be daunting. All the things that can feel like roadblocks if we let them, but they’re really not. They are difficulties, variables, challenges. Not impossibilities. At one point in time, Kauai felt like an impossibility, but I am finding that if I just allow myself to look at it differently, see things from the angle of “can” instead of “can’t,” that it isn’t an impossibility after all. Just a process of figuring out how to navigate an obstacle course.
Last June I wrote a piece called “Speed Bumps.” It used the literal and metaphorical idea of the speed bumps around the town of Anchorage to take a trip down memory line and reflect on different points in my history where a particular speed bump got in my way, tripped me up, slowed me down, and disrupted my flow.
It is the story about my own growth and evolution in this town which ends with my deep yearning that, despite all the gifts of growth that have come from life in Anchorage, someday I will live someplace where there are not so many speed bumps. Not so many visceral reminders of my past popping up all over the place, making me pause and remember things I’ve laid to rest. One can only reinvent themselves so many times over in the same space before they hunger for a new place to plant roots and grow.
Then Brent happened, and all of Anchorage has become a giant speed bump, even with my best efforts to find the beauty and good in each day. This has been home for over 30 years, housing the 4 members of my core family all that time; Dad, Mom, Brent, and I; we grew up here; laid deep roots. And now there are 3, and it’s all been uprooted, and I no longer want to live in the place that played host to so much loss.
And so I find myself in a new place of possibility, ready to leave the familiarity of life in Alaska. Life After Brent has pushed me to go. Stripped me of who and what isn’t real in my life. Challenged me to consider what I am doing with my time, if I am living the life I want to live. Yanked me from the ease of shadows on the wall of the cave—representing certainty, security, and comfort—and forced me out into the release of the sun, who tells me I need to find new ways to let the sun shine brighter in my life.
I’m choosing to interpret this literally by moving to a place where you can depend on the sun shining bright. A place where I don’t ever have to be bone achingly, smothered in darkness, cold again.
There is a strange acceptance found when we begin to let go. An odd peace that casts a soft glow and sense of nostalgia over everything. Though it’s still a year out, I find myself saying goodbye to people and places and old spaces in preparation for the change. Find myself loosening the angles and grooves in the old shapes I once fit; I no longer have to squeeze myself into those molds. Find myself letting the threads of how life was supposed to look unravel. Find the beauty in the becoming found in life’s undoings.
Brent was forced becoming. Forced change. Forced loss. I had no warning, no do overs, no chance to say goodbye, and that has taught me many radical lessons on acceptance, letting go, making peace with imperfect endings, and finding gratitude for what was and what is. We are not promised tomorrow, best to find peace in today, and so I find myself in the right heart space for change.
Besides, unlike with Brent, I have the opportunity to say goodbye to Anchorage. To tie up what I can. To loosen what needs to be loosened. To say anything that lays unspoken, though I have learned we always have an opportunity to say those words; just because something has already passed doesn’t mean you can’t speak the words you need to say into life anyway and trust they’ll travel to wherever they need to go.
To allow my heart to find and feel whatever it needs in the amount of time left. Time that is precious and finite, filled with sorrow and joy, a closing of the old to create an opening for the new. Time that I suspect, will pass all too slowly and all too swiftly.