Since I've Been Home

I've run out of socks that match. I haven't been able to sleep because I keep thinking about what to put in my empty fireplace without a flue and what a flue is. The temperature dropped, the sky came with it, and I thought about how much of my life in Alaska is spent watching the way the weather pulls itself over the town like a hood. Here, the clouds streak over the mountains like raked apart strands of white hair, and the spaces between every place feel stretched out and airy, clean. Here, I look more straight-ahead than above. Since I've been home I've been thinking more in contrasts than comparisons. When I got back to work, it felt like the room was more full of stuff than when I'd left. When I put my clothes on, I realized I've been smelling more like mold for the last four months than I thought I had. When I thought about my grandpa, I had to shift everything a little bit to remember he's not in his apartment anymore on a green sunken couch above the lake listening to the radio station on his TV. I wonder why it's sometimes hard to remember that people have died, and I think it might be because so little else changes until we make an effort to take our notes--to notice, really. When I came off the plane, Colorado felt light on its feet and dewy, but I woke up the next day and, to my surprise, missed the curved spoon of a sky in Sitka and the way my boots sound when the mud sucks them down then lets them go.

Then my best friends came. We hiked up a shallow stream, set the camera timer, and tried to jump right when the shutter went off and I realized how good it is to be around a group of girls for a few days before you share your life with a man. We fixed each others' hair and ordered flavored vodkas. We traded clothes and read magazines. It was perfectly cliché and sometimes a girl needs to live out a few magazine scenes to feel like her life is familiar again. I remember last summer, during the months with no sun, I saw a magazine photo of a woman in a white dress and I cried. This time, in Alaska, I read books about ice and realized as long as Luke lives where I do, I can do cold. Teenie sent me a long sweater and I bought expensive teas. Some days, I almost didn't notice the rain. When I got home, the sun was nice, but I waited for Luke like light. When he got here, it was like putting on that white dress.

Last night, my mom and I pulled the flowers in towards the side of the house and draped flannel sheets over them like you would with a corpse. I bought a six pack of socks and some exfoliating soap. I read another magazine and drank wine instead of writing even though I've been telling myself for weeks I need to. I learned you can use a rubber band to open a screwed-tight jar. I clipped out an article on managing anxiety. I thought, for the first time in my life, I might be an anxious person, and thinking about anxiety makes me more anxious than the things that are supposed to start it. Then I laid in bed and thought of everything I'll never do, like eat dinner on a crane, suspended 180 feet above Las Vegas, which is what I'm writing about at work, and the anxiety inched up a little higher under my heart. I thought of the flowers under my bedroom, like lumpy monsters sleeping on the porch, and I wanted to rest like that, and then I dreamt of a red boat, the color of our gardenias, that crested the mountains like it would a wave.

Sometimes I'm afraid of spending the rest of my life between two places. It's not that here is good and there is bad or there is good and here is bad, it's just that everything moves differently away from the sea, and here, the ceiling is always moving east. I realize the problem isn't where I should live, it's that I want the whole world to inhabit my immediately present world. I guess the only way I know how to do that is to read, and maybe sometimes, when I get it right, to write.

At work, the angled light coming off the tin in the window-well reminds me of Alaska's not-quite-enoughness. Not quite enough sun, not quite enough of whatever we might need to fully process beauty or largeness.  My coworker's black dog Bowie noses carrots across the carpet and catches my wrist in his pointy teeth. At the coffeeshop this afternoon, nubs of soft feet stick out from a stroller and try out different directions. A Van Morrison song, Indian Summer, reminds me of the way a best friend in high school moved. There is then and there is now and for me they meet in the afternoon.