Friday, October 1, 2010

Haines, Alaska

I ran into a friend last night who gave me a poster-size photo of Haines, Alaska she had taken in June of this year while she and her husband were there on an Alaskan  motorcycle trip. She'll never know how much that photo means to me.  I sat and looked at the photo last night which seems to be taken from the road where you get off the ferry and head into town.  It's a panoramic and I can almost see the little four-plex where my family lived a short time when I was just starting high school 30+ years ago. To the right of the photo is a clear view of main street which leads down to the boat dock. It's been a super long time since I've been to Haines but this photo takes me right back. Some of my most cherished memories come from those high school days. I don't remember a lot of things but I spent a lot of time walking around Haines with my peeps and I know every inch of that place in my mind. We used to spend a lot of weekend nights at the rec hall (or was it called the teen center?) which had a pool table and was "the place to be" on a Friday night. Before I could drive, my sister and I had to walk everywhere and I'm guessing it was at least a good 2 miles from our house to the pool hall. Sometimes people would pick us up but often we would walk in 2+ feet of snow to get there.
In Haines, everybody knows everybody. I can picture many of the characters from those days and I suppose I was one of them.  My best friend, Lisa, had two brothers and they all took turns working at their parents' hardware store located on the corner of Main and 2nd Street.  I spent a lot of time hanging out on that corner. I had a little crush on Lisa's brother.  He still lives there and I believe he now operates Haisler Hardware. After high school, Lisa and I exchanged letters once or twice a year. She married a local guy and they had 4 children.  Lisa died from breast cancer about 8 or 9 years ago.  She was the most beautiful person, inside and out. I can't think about Haines without thinking of her and the many, many "best" friends I had there.

I moved to Fairbanks, Alaska right after high school.  I had never seen a traffic light nor a one-way street.  Fairbanks might as well have been New York City.  I digress.

My high school friend, Kathy, who lives in Juneau asks me every once in awhile if I miss living in Alaska.  The answer is usually no.  I don't miss the long, dark, cold winters.  I don't miss mosquitoes.  I don't miss over-priced, second-rate fruits and vegetables or expensive milk.  But the truth is, I miss the clean air, mountains, and a way of life that is impossible to explain to anyone who has never lived it.  I miss looking out my window to see moose standing in my yard.  I miss those experiences that are unique to living in a place that a lot of people only dream of visiting.

I'm so happy our friends, Dorothy & Bob, got to take their Alaskan trip.  Thank you, Dorothy.  Your gift of this photo is more precious than you'll ever know.   love, Susan

P.S. This is not the photo she gave me. This is downloaded from the internet.

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