Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Goodbye New York

The mode of my departure from New York was the same as that of my arrival over ten years ago: a taxi ride across the Tri-borough Bridge. The days, on the other hand, were as different as the woman in the backseat. When I arrived in August of 1995, it was a warm summer night and the sun was setting spectacularly behind the Manhattan skyline. When I left in March 2006, it was a gray, slushy afternoon with Easterly winds blowing crisp marine air over the city. The streets were still holding the remnants of New York’s biggest snow storm in history, making it seem more like quiet New England than the mid-Atlantic megapolis. New York in August is an entirely different city; more ethnic, more flamboyant, reminiscent of a steamy Westside Story and the old E-street band.

My roommate, Miriam, helped me carry my suitcases down to the car. The taxi driver on this trip seemed inclined to chat. He told me that I had a beautiful daughter. I told him she was my roommate, only three years younger. That kept him quiet until we arrived at the terminal. A big smile and a Nebraska quasi-drawl at the ticket counter ensured that the airline wouldn’t charge me for my overweight suitcases. Then I got on my flight to Chicago. In Ohare I walked a couple miles to the “K” terminal where Alaska Airlines departs for Anchorage. In Anchorage, I boarded the last leg to Fairbanks at midnight. An hour later my new Russian boss, Volodya, was waiting for me at the baggage claim at Fairbanks International. Most flights arrive and depart in Fairbanks at 1 am, because it’s the either the very end or the very beginning of a person’s journey to what they call the “Outside”. There are a few daytime flights to Anchorage, but it’s common to share these seats with cargo.

The 11-hour trip went surprisingly quickly. I looked over the pictures from my going away party and tried not to cry. Too much. I read Jon Krakauer’s “Into the Wild” and thought about my summer plans for hiking in Denali Park. I hope they don’t involve starving to death or being eaten by a bear. But I am definitely excited by the adventures ahead.

1 comment:

thameside said...

dear snowbird,
you have an old soul, that of an explorer and an adventurer.
hats off to you for taking the plunge and going to AK.
your cabin and the view from the front door are terrific.