I am not travelling to Alaska on assignment to experience Christmas with people who use the term “Baby Jesus” without irony or sarcasm. Or people who line their staircases with nutcrackers. I am here to spend it with friends, though I am surprised to find that I could easily write that piece. If anyone is reading this who is in the position to handout “assignments” please contact me, especially if it is paid.
One of my friends here is named Sara and she named her first baby after me – or, at least, the middle name. She swears it wasn’t a coincidence. Strange, since my only accomplishments of note I can think of are this blog and acing the “All The Countries in the World” test in 8th grade. I cannot get advertising for either.
The plane ride is good – I spend most of my time watching the season finale of Survivor on my phone. The older gentleman two seats away asks if I am watching Lost. His daughter in between us sighs that they are totally different, dad. I point out that they do both take place on an island and capture the human endeavor in the face of communal isolation… and in the case of Survivor’s season 19, Russell might equally embody corporeal evil as well as Lost’s Man in Black. This is the worst conversation starter ever.
The last plane hop from Anchorage to Kodiak is in something called a Turboprop and has no security procedure, no TSA, no body scanners. I post a status update that it would be incredibly easy to hijack this thing so the jihadists should look into it. Apparently the FBI Facebook word flagger has a serious delay because I am not pulled off the tarmac. I make it to Kodiak on the shaking, tiny plane, even though one friend, unlike others who pretended to envy my vacation, had only two words for me: Ted Stevens!
I don’t want to magnify the prosaic existence of everyone else but me, but it’s the first morning here and I’m about to hot tub outside while watching the snow drift down lazily and the deer eat soy nuts from my hand. UPDATE: The hot tub was still cold and there were no deer. Maybe their frozen carcasses are hidden just out of view. There is a blizzard warning.
Having never done any research on the subject, circumstances demand an entire day to be spent pondering, “Why the hell, when a baby is tired, why don’t they fall asleep instead of cry up in your ear?” It seems like once they finally fall asleep the first time the most basic of synaptic connections should have been sewn, and they should know the element of tiredness should be met with the element of sleep from there on out in life. Instead, the opposite seems to happen.
The big event happening in town right now is the city league basketball tournament. The local paper reports the statistics right above the NBA numbers. My friend Pete plays the position of Monster Forward on one team, the prohibitive favorite, at least for the games their Fleet-Footed Point Guard is in town visiting family. I am present for their first game, which pits them against members of the Coastguard, which is entirely confusing, as every person is hairy, overweight, and wears goggles. Things are cleared up when I’m told they all work at a place called Coastguard Computers.
I am sledding for the first time I can remember. It is in a small playground instead of places called “Cocaine Hill” and “Gravel Pit”, which is where the high schoolers go. I am also wishing I was a high schooler for the first time I can remember. I am guessing there would be a lot more booze and a lot less small children to keep avoiding at the end of a run.
Near the place where I am staying, there is a sign beneath the speed limit advising motorists to “Keep a Kid Alive. Slow down when you drive”. I am informed that it is placed, unintentionally, in front of a house where a 5-year old was killed while sledding by a driver. Apparently, the father will drink out on the patio at nights, sometimes shooting a rifle into the air. I am a little sad no one even came close to dying while we were sledding.
It is day 5 and I have contracted the Kodiak Stomach Flu. Everyone in the family I’m visiting has had it the past month. By extension, the entire town has had it too. Why I was not told of this or why the town had not been quarantined I am not sure. It is one of my biggest fears in life to be aboard an airplane with the stomach flu. So, I hole up until my flight back watching movies. My friend rents “Some Like it Hot” from the video store because she knows I liked “Tootsie”… and you know… the whole cross-dressing thing.
I make it home with only mild discomfort and 2 hours of total delays on the trip home. I wish the main thing I took from the whole affair was something more than a mundane observation of how cold it was… but it was goddamn cold. I promise if this was a paid assignment, I would come up with something more.