The days are getting shorter.
It has finally warmed up in Southeast Alaska, but instead of carrying the promise of a long, carefree summer, the higher temps signal the end of it.
In Ketchikan, people are making plans. What next? Bartending in Hawaii, chasing the summer? Heading to the ski resorts to enjoy the snow? Back to classes and ‘real life’?
Each weekend when we go out, we’re staying out later and later. Subconsciously, we’re trying to squeeze every last minute out of each other’s company before we part ways, because we all know deep down that once we leave, things will never be the same again. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but the friends I made in Ketchikan this summer became a family. And soon this new little family I adore is splitting up, probably forever. So we go out and roam the streets til the early hours of the morning, each interaction tinged with just enough heartbreak to make it painfully poignant.
During the week, the weather has me spending more and more time out of the galley and on the deck of the boat. There have been so many beautiful moments in each day that my heart almost can’t take it. The orcas have come back through, reminding me how far I’ve come since June, when they last were here. It also feels like yesterday.
Last week, a rainbow blazed a path over the boat. It ended 100 yards away, it’s reflection in the mirror-smooth water. We snapped photo after photo, exclaiming over it’s beauty and desperate to capture it before it vanished. Until it stayed. And stayed. For almost two hours, the vivid display danced over our heads. And guess what we did? After about 20 minutes of fascinated wonder, we all went back to our duties. Because even beauty, if you face it for long enough, can become monotonous.
Which makes me wonder: Do we hold things more dear when we know they’re short-lived? When we know that this moment is slipping like sand through our fingers, does that make us hold on tighter? Or do we just revel in the feeling of it all slipping away, appreciating that this is what makes it beautiful?
Part of me wants this summer to never end, but I know that if it didn’t, it would lose this magic.
Another part of me is ready for it all to be over, for that next step to happen. I’m tired, and I’m ready for a change.
And for me, this summer marks a transition that I’ve been struggling with: from free-spirited traveler to a more settled life as a wife. I have an amazing and supportive partner who has enabled me to chase every dream, whim, and opportunity that has come my way these last two years, and I owe him a little (okay, a LOT) of quality time looking after him.
So I’m back in that place of tension I always struggle with: How can I keep feeding my sense of adventure while also catering to my desire for a home? Where do I find that balance? Or will I never find it?
What do you do when all you want is everything?
There are a few things I’m looking forward to. Like getting back to my writing, which had fallen entirely by the wayside while I’ve been living up here. Figuring out what I’ll be doing next, and seeing which direction fate and circumstance send me. And, of course, reuniting with my English Muffin and that little chihuahua and being a family again. If there’s anyone who can help me find that balance I’m looking for, it’s him.
But I can already feel how nostalgic I’m going to be for this summer someday. I already know I’m going to tell my grandkids stories about this time and place. And Ketchikan has helped me get a little closer to knowing what I want to get out of life. It’s been beautiful in every possible way. And it’s only beautiful because it’s transient.