A little bit richer

The writer is seen in this ridiculous photo posted immediately to her mother’s Facebook as she leaves for Alaska in February 2017 with only one coat, the army jacket she wears in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Eileen Sorensen)

The writer is seen in this ridiculous photo posted immediately to her mother’s Facebook as she leaves for Alaska in February 2017 with only one coat, the army jacket she wears in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Eileen Sorensen)

I woke up this morning a bit richer.

The Alaska Permanent Fund dividend landed in Alaskans’ bank accounts sometime early Thursday and mine was among them for the first time.

When I moved to Alaska in February 2017, I was quickly schooled in all the things I did wrong. I should’ve brought more coats. I should’ve brought less T-shirts. I should’ve toughened up and driven from New Jersey, turns out the Subaru I left to my brother was the holy grail of cars in Alaska.

Most importantly, though, I should’ve arrived Jan. 1.

I had been offered a job at the Peninsula Clarion at the end of 2016, but my indecisive waffling and disdain for saying goodbye to family and friends kept me on the East Coast for two costly months, making me ineligible for a PFD until now, two and a half years after I landed in Anchorage with only one coat — the one I was wearing.

My first winter in Alaska, my misery waxed and waned with just a few peaks toward happiness. I was convinced, as breakup season took hold, that I would be saying goodbye to Alaska soon, never to see a PFD. How could I possibly survive another winter that cold and dark?

Then that weird breakup season smell disappeared and was replaced by the smell of wildflowers. I came to realize why people were drawn to Alaska. I found myself climbing up into peaks of happiness, and staying there.

As that first, breathtaking summer began to shift back to winter, I didn’t want to fall. The temperatures dropped and I found myself adding layer after layer, so I could still go outside, so I could bear to stay in Alaska.

Now, I’ve seen all the seasons change a few times each, and have started to look forward to the shifts. I can remember back to my first October and compare it to this one fondly because I’ve realized how important it is for me to be outside as much as possible, all seasons of the year.

I learned how to change the conversation I have with Alaska. Instead of dreading the long nights of winter, I’ve come to love the beauty that comes with a late sunrise by running along Resurrection Bay at 10 a.m., with only the sound of ice cleats hitting the ground as the sun rises and a small dusting of snow falls.

Instead of hoping against big dumpings of snow, I now wait patiently for them while I wax my skate skis.

I don’t dread those brisk fall days and what they lead to, instead I look forward to the chance to hike up to a summit and enjoy the fiery colors the change in season brings.

I love running along a trail, in the heat of the summer or dead of the winter, and recognizing that the quiet beauty of nature I live in is a luxury not everyone gets to experience, any season of the year.

And, so, today I woke up a bit richer than I was two and a half years ago.

There’s a world of possibilities outside of my doorstep, runs, hikes, adventures and more that I would never have imagined myself lacing my shoes up for back when I was mentally packing all my bags to get out of this state.

Now, I’m perusing new cross-country skis, getting excited for the next big change in weather.

I showed up two months late in 2017, but that doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that I stayed.

More in Sports

Nikiski’s America Jeffreys celebrates a point with her team Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, against ACS at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski’s Jeffreys to play basketball at Bushnell

Staff report America Jeffreys, a 2020 graduate of Nikiski High School, signed… Continue reading

Jode Sparks runs to victory in the 10-mile men’s run at the Mouth to Mouth Wild Run and Ride on Monday, May 28, 2018, at the Kenai beach. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Races adjust to new coronavirus

Organizers have had to decide how to change their events to match the times.

The women’s field takes to the course Tuesday, July 4, 2017, at the Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska. Eventual winner Allie Ostrander is to the right of Christy Marvin (1). (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Mount Marathon Race canceled for 2020

The 93rd running of the race up and down the 3,022-foot mountain is rescheduled for July 4, 2021.

Chugiak’s Tyler Huffer stiff-arms Soldotna’s Hudson Metcalf during a scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
4 SoHi players to join college programs

A 2020 Soldotna High graduate class that was a key part of… Continue reading

(Photo provided)
Tangled Up in Blue: Blunt cuts

I cut my own hair last night. After months of new coronavirus… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: The roles of morels

While people have been taking advantage of the abundance of morels following… Continue reading

The Kenai River can be seen from the Funny River Campground on Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Funny River, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Area fishing guides hit hard by pandemic

“If the quarantine doesn’t come off pretty soon, I think we’ll just be out of luck this year.”

Tri-The-Kenai may be gone for good

The 10th running of the event this year would have been June 14.

Post 20 first baseman Seth Adkins tags out Axel Shanks of Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300 on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. Twins pitcher Mose Hayes picked off Shanks. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Peninsula will have high school summer baseball

There will be high school baseball this summer. Only it will have… Continue reading

Most Read