31 January 2008

An evening alone with homemade wine

I sent an email out to an old employer of mine in Fairbanks, among others, and today he responded by telling me drop by the office because he might have some "interesting projects"... at the same time I just got an email from another dear Fairbanks friend telling me that a cabin was available if I should want it. I loved Fairbanks when I was there...but I have never gone back to live some place that I lived before. Even my current standing with my parents feels strange and out of place. But I wonder...if he has funding and has projects, can I see myself back in Fairbanks? So many of the people I knew when I lived there have gone, the emotional landscape has changed, and yet I feel the tug. How strange would it be to live in a cabin, beautifully built by a shipwright, that once housed a long-time boyfriend after we broke up? Of course, dropping by the office will have to be by telephone....

Newfoundland village (2005)

I wonder if I don't have some sort of "escapee" problem - I'm always some place new. At night I dream I took on a job in Newfoundland, doing research in Labrador, and built myself a house on the edge of the sea cliffs. And how does one get farther and stay on the North American continent from Alaska then to go to Newfoundland? For the record I have been there, and the similarities are striking. My mother has a cousin there too...who I have only met the once. I wonder what it is about me that has a ken for these long distant places, these remote isolated areas? Why is it that the places that appeal to me are in the remote arctic or antarctic? When the other half of me craves art and culture and society? Am I running to things or from things? I get away from it all of today's social strings for months on end and can see the tether of my own sanity dissapearing like the broken strings on a guitar, knowing that I must get back to a place with more grounding, with people, and then I'm back with people and society and I feel off kilter and after a few months all I hear is the harkening of those remote places where the soul of me was tested where I thought I'd lose myself forwever never to return.

A very good friend of mine and I had a long discussion once after a particularly harrow raising field season, one where I came back just in the nick of time to confirm that reality had not warped while I was gone. She told me that I seem to look for and apply for things that other people would shy away from. Things that other people would see uncertainty in. This was a valuable insight and I ponder still how to keep myself from the jobs where my colleagues and I are placed in undue danger while still feeding the explorer in me. How do I suss these situations out? How do I tell the difference between bravery and stupidity? Why, when I long to stay in one place cannot I not seem to do so even when the opportunity is in front of me?


  1. Something about that cabin reminds me of the house in "The Shipping News"

    "Why, when I long to stay in one place cannot I not seem to do so even when the opportunity is in front of me?"

    Because you do not really long to stay in one place, or you would.

  2. Your questions lead to other questions, maybe not easily answered. You are questing for something.

  3. i see why you call yourself WAYFARER

  4. It sounds like it's all about choice... maybe you like being alone in a remote place, maybe you like being around people in a hustle and bustle place, but both only at your choosing. Unfortunately finding a place where you can oscillate at will between the two is not be the easiest thing in the world.

    (Maybe I'm just projecting. I need some alone time every day, but if it's enforced - like the long weekend a couple of years ago when hubby was working in Victoria, I had to work, and every single one of my friends was out of town - then I get antsy for company. The grass is always greener).

  5. Wayfarer, it's interesting that two Fairbanks things came up at once. (I'm assuming the email re a place available was independent of your contact with the old employer?)
    Maybe you could think around the dilemma by considering where you have been happy. I've heard a definition of happiness as being a time when you are so engrossed in something that you don't stop to consider whether you are happy.
    By the way, did you see the article in the New York Times about the guys who are doing a documentary about vanishing languages? http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/13artswe.html?_r=1&ex=1357966800&en=72da816eab91778f&ei=5090&oref=slogin

  6. A remote place vs. a city... such tough choices! I wish there were more places we could do both.

  7. Striking a balance can be very tough. I don't really have any advice. Except that I think we all struggle with this on some level. And talking that through with a good friend can be very helpful! (Enjoy the wine. Who made it by the way?)

  8. How interesting.

    I think there is such a message about typical and "grow up and settle down" that inherently we all sort of partially assume there must be some flaw in any scenario outside that.

    You are free. Do as you do, be as you are.

    I think you will know the line between exciting adventurous brave and stupid.

    Only the insane don't wonder about their sanity. KWIM? (And sorry to use insane there, can't think of other cliche.)

  9. I'm settled, and happily so. But your words always stir the wanderlust in me.

    Good luck with whatever you decide, and with balancing that need for solitude and society...

  10. babe, i relate to the wanderlust and also to following your heart. it's not always right to go back and sometimes it's not always wrong.

  11. Sometimes the only thing worse than not getting what you think you want is actually getting it.

    We don't always want the opportunities that present themselves. It's your right to choose.

  12. I'd have to agree with Ms Chica there. Sometimes you aren't prepared for the ramifications of what you want once you get it.

    Thanks for stopping by. And sorry it's taken me so long to get back. It's been one of THOSE weeks....:)

  13. The picure is beautiful. I've been contemplating postodocs and your questions about seeking uncertainty hit home- in topic and geography. Can't wait to see what your decisions end up to be.

  14. There is an element of classic culture shock to your internal needs: you are never entirely at home where you are. That is true of anyone who's left his/her original beginnings and gone to some place starkly different, along the way discovering new pieces of him/herself. Of course, there is so much to admire about those who can manage in more than one culture or landscape; in many ways, their lives are richer.

    Don't close the option of Fairbanks, I'd say. But keep dreaming of other places, too. You'll wander; you'll try; you'll get to the right place. Or maybe the right place is everywhere.

  15. Newfoundland, I was born in Eastern Canada! Still can remember the size of the mostquitos in Newfoundland!

  16. trusting your dreams is always brave, and will always seem like stupidity to most other people, but what do they know?

    you've mentioned before a desire for more permanance, stability, love. i don't think those things are incompatible with dreaming about living in far flung places.

  17. Great musings. I don't know how you can answer these questions but I think it's good that you have the awareness to be able to ask them of yourself in the first place.

  18. Like Meno, I thought of the Shipping News as well. I really cannot be any wiser than her words. To my mind she is pretty much right on.

  19. meno, the shipping news! of course! Ah but that doesn't mean I don't wrestle with it.

    sally forth, exactly...I AM questing. It's hard discouraging work sometimes.

    maypole, only now :)

    cae, I am like that too. And I think perhaps a more middle ground is a lot easier to find then what I normally go after - total remoteness or total peopleness.

    parlance, yes they came up independently. It's a useful point to think about.

    sciencegirl, definately!

    amanda, my father made the wine!

    julie, hmmm...interesting, perhaps it is only the fact that everyone else wants me to settle (which is true enough) that I feel the need to. And it is true about sanity, but I really did just about lose it which was discovered by others on my return from one of the remotest islands in the world and it cost a pretty workman's comp penny (well, the circumstances on the island did not help).

    bean-mom, thanks! I need it.

    jen, oh, that is true, very true.

  20. ms chica, hmmm...I'm not sure about that first one. I'll have to think about it.

    melissa, no problem! Hope your week gets better!

    dancingfish, ah, we are doing the same dance at different stages.

    jocelyn, I like your advice, that's my plan! And you're right I'm one of those chronically culture shocked.

    dj, I'm sure their about the same size as the ones in Alaska although maybe different species, we consider them our state bird.

    matte, I'm glad you don't think those things are incompatible... most of the time I don't either but every now and then I have a blue moment and have my doubts.

    trousers, some times I think too much. :)

    crazymumma, I loved the shipping news.


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