Monthly Archives: March 2013

Dear Lucía

Every new adventure comes with the challenging phase of leaving what you know and embracing the many changes that come with it. In anticipation for our move, lately I have been saying a lot of goodbyes. Doing so in one case struck me as surprisingly difficult. This is an open letter I wrote to my ESL learner after saying goodbye a couple of days ago.  

Dear Lucía,

It has been an absolute pleasure to help you learn English over the past four months. Your determination and perseverance is simply inspiring as you manage your job, a house full of kiddos, plus some major medical setbacks. Your progress is slow, but significant. I hope you do not get discouraged and you keep at it!

But really, I need to thank you. You offered me the chance to step completely out of my comfort zone and you welcomed me into your home to try my hand at something totally new. You were patient with me when I failed at explaining. You laughed at my dumb jokes. Together, we were frustrated at our inability to communicate, yet somehow in those moments, you encouraged me through a nod or a smile and we pressed on.

Somewhere within the process of lesson planning, pronunciation drills, writing each other “stories,” and repeating vocabulary cards, you taught me important lessons about myself. That I am lucky to be able to converse with the friendly sales clerk in the grocery store and neighbors at the bus stop, and never to take that for granted. You reminded me that although we come from incredibly diverse backgrounds, we have so much in common – the need to be accepted, desire to fit in, and aptitude to pass on kindness and enjoy laughter with one another despite tough barriers. And most importantly, you reminded me about the great reward that comes from giving. Your warmth and friendship in exchange for my time preparing lessons for us was worth it a hundred times over. This is something I will hold with me forever.

Saying goodbye to you and your children caught me completely off guard. Somehow I expected to walk out coolly and not look back. But I left tearful and very saddened – that I will not have the opportunity to experience your positivity and giggle with your cute kids again. That I am abandoning you so soon after we’d established trust, respect and patience with one another.

Please know that I will think of you often and I will celebrate your literary victories from afar. Though we entered one another’s lives for such a short period of time, I will be rooting for you and your kids for the rest of my life.

Buena suerte y muchas, muchas gracias, Lucía.

-Jenny

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Stalking Alaska

Moving to a place you’ve never been is a funny thing. I have been searching blogs, tourism websites and comment boards for a glimpse of what living in Anchorage is like.

Here are some gems I have found in my search. (And I apologize, but I have completely failed at citing any of this. My bad.)

The Bad:

“So, if you are planning on moving to Alaska, bring your rain gear and your anti-depression pills.”

“It’s freezing butt cold for 8 months out of the year”
“Isolated… you HAVE to fly if you want to go anywhere, unless you like paying a billion dollars in gas”
“People ask you if you really do live in igloos”
“Mosquitoes big enough to kill horses”
“At any rate, if you love shopping and trendy things, why don’t you try Seattle instead?”
The Good:
“if you like the wilderness and incredibly large open spaces, Alaska is the tops. I backpacked for a couple of weeks and thought it was the most beautiful place I had ever been- so many colors reflected in the mountain sides…and views to die for.”

“Gold and many places to find it need I say more.”

“there’s no sales tax and no income tax in Alaska. Yeah. Starting to sound like a good place to live, no?”

“Perhaps nowhere else combines the conveniences of the modern age with the freedom and adventure of living on the edge of a vast, unspoiled wilderness as do Anchorage and Alaska.”
“we’re the friendliest people in America.”
(This one is from a tourist website, to be fair:)
“Anchorage is a place where adventure and modern life go hand-in-hand. You can go ice climbing before work and skiing on one of the hundreds of groomed trails during your lunch hour. Then sit down to a meal at a world-class restaurant and cap the evening off with a Broadway show. Alaska’s largest city offers all the conveniences of urban life without compromising on solitude, adventure, and open spaces. Now that’s life.”
“Winters aren’t as bad as myth would have it. Anchorage actually has a warmer climate than other cold-weather cities like Chicago and Minneapolis because it’s on the ocean.”
This helps only a little bit. But at least now I know I can find gold. Need I say more?

Weekend Warriors Go To Alaska

This blog got a facelift! I updated the former, environmentally focused “Welcome to the Good Life” blog in order to open up the content options to share more about my life now. Check out more behind this change in the updated “About” page. I hope you like it. Thanks for reading! –Jenny

***

I knew we’d end up going the moment Sam told me that he may apply for a job in Anchorage.

Nevermind the house we just bought, the puppy we were about to buy, and the already happy and fairly adventurous life we currently live. I thrive on newness, live in fear of regret, and recognize that our relationship is always at its best when we’re experiencing new things together.

So, as I have done many times with other big propositions in the past, I immediately jumped on it… and then soon started freaking out about it.  (Why do I always do this backwards of the sensible way? e.g. 1. Think, 2. React.)

I am certain I will look back on this time and laugh because I’ve gotten it all wrong. Once I get through the next three weeks of packing, selling, storing, and planning maybe everything will be totally fine. But right now – after accepting a job, telling my Momma, giving notice at work ,and realizing how much needs to get done at home all in one day – I feel overwhelmed, nervous and pretty sad. I want to go to Alaska, but I don’t want to leave our good friends, beautiful new home, and the comfort of family close by.

Familiarity is nice. But perhaps (and cross your fingers with me here) adventure is better.

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