Monthly Archives: March 2015

Little Planes and Big Hearts

I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m homesick. I am. I miss my boys. I miss visits with family, and wine with Mom. I miss cooking. (Words I never thought I’d say.) I miss snow! (Words I should not be saying living in Alaska.) I miss seeing friends. I miss my photos, furniture, knick-knacks, and my comfy bed.

Missing aside, it’s time to write about what I’m enjoying about being where I am.

Merrill Field was the first official airport in Alaska. It opened in 1930. I’ve tried to research the number of flights to take off and land per day, and I see numbers ranging from 340-530. My station is located right near the airport, and all day long I can see and hear the planes coming in and taking off. They are smaller planes, the kind I am terrified of, but I am loving them. I find them intimate, adventurous, and wild. They provoke a vintage feel, and when I hear one coming, I can’t help but look up. and wish I was in it.

Last week I did my first out-of-town story. My photographer, Emily, and I arrived at the larger airport in Anchorage, Ted Stevens International, at 5:30 a.m. and did not have to go through security. We checked in, made our way to the terminal, and waited. As our plane taxied to the gate, it was loud. It sounded old. It was old. Small, two seats by two seats and nine rows. Enough to make me say, “Xanax would be nice…”

Nerves pushed aside, the flight was amazing. We flew over the Chugach mountains, on the sides of mountains, and along Prince William Sound. We could see white mountain peaks and glaciers, winding rivers, and frozen lakes. It was truly breathtaking and for 45 minutes we snapped pictures and were in awe of the beauty.

We landed in Valdez, a small little airport with one runway wedged in between mountains. As we approached, it seemed like you could reach out and touch the mountains next to us, or if a strong gust of wind were to strike we could be plastered against them.

Valdez is a small city of 4100 people. It’s a fishing village with a movie set feel. After we finished the shoot for our story, we set up shop in the restaurant at the Best Western. We had a view of the marina, and the water was eerily calm, all of the boats still in the water despite it being winter. Emily is a bit younger than me, and when I commented that I felt like we were on the Jaws ride at Universal, I think she hadn’t a clue what I was talking about.

Everyone was friendly and happy to have us there, although perhaps a little weary of our intentions. Once I had eased their minds that it really was a feel good story, they unwound a bit and opened up. We were told where to go for dinner and lunch and the best spots for viewing the city to  get a feel for its isolation. We snapped a lot of photos. The plane for the ride home was half the size of the one there, and 3 x’s as terrifying. I survived and would do it again in a heartbeat.

I have yet to see the Northern Lights as I live in the city and will probably have to load two sleepy kids into the car well after they initially fell asleep, and drive at least 30 minutes outside of the city limits to get the best views. Last night, however, after seeing posts that they could be spotted, I went outside and looked up. What I did see was a moon dog.  Wikipedia says: a relatively rare bright circular spot on a lunar halo caused by the refraction of moonlight by hexagonal-plate-shaped ice crystals in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. I say: amazing.

Sights and sounds of Alaska. I have seen and heard a few. I love it all so far and look forward to experiencing more.

The last thing I love about Alaska so far is the way it has brought me closer to certain people back home. Maybe it is a classic case of distance makes the heart grow fonder, but I am extremely grateful for the closeness I have developed with friends via emails, phone calls, and texts. While I am alone, in many ways, all the way up here ridiculously close to the Arctic Circle, I feel close in heart and mind. I knew this would be an adventure, but I didn’t realize how many people would come along with me.

Thank you.

Feeling Real

December 15, 2012. I walked into my kitchen at around 1:00 am. December 14 had been a long day, not nearly what it was to many people who suffered unbelievable loss and pain, but I had been there, Sandy Hook.

This post isn’t about the shootings. It isn’t about those perfect little children who woke up that morning, and never went home. It’s about marriage and what I miss most.

Andy was awake and waiting for me. I had driven home from the station in silence, no radio, nothing. I didn’t realize that until I pulled into the driveway. At this point we were once again living under the same roof but we both knew it was just until we were in a better place to separate. Let’s say we were going through the motions .

He asked if I was okay and I said yes. I really thought I was. At that point, I was probably numb, in work mode, and shock. We sat on the couch for a while, in silence, and I rested my head on his chest and we just let ourselves be. At the end of the worst day ever, for so many people, I needed to feel something other than death. I did not cry.

He told me to sleep in in the morning, that he would wake up with the twins. When I woke at 9:30, I walked downstairs and he was sitting on the purple couch, a child on each side. I joined them and sat next to Cassandra who was to his right. She was 4. She had no idea what was going on but she must have felt something because she turned to me and said, “Mommy, are you ok? I love you.”

Well, that was it. The flood gates opened and I lost it. I remember Andy picking her up and moving her to the other side, and wrapping his arm around me and telling me it was okay to cry. We sat, I cried quietly so as not to scare the twins, and we just let ourselves be. I miss that.

The past few weeks have been full of stories of violence. Shootings, stabbings, rapes, young mothers killed, lives lost. At the end of the day I come home, to a home that really isn’t home, and tuck my children into bed and then it is quiet. There is no one to tell me it’s okay. There is no one to wipe a tear away. There is no one to just be with. Lately I have been dreaming about violence, and when I wake up, there is no one I can turn to to feel real and safe with.

I don’t want to think I failed at marriage, twice. I want to think I didn’t get it right. Right is out there, I just haven’t found it yet. I see that others have it and I am envious. I see all of your happy pictures, kids, mom and dad, houses, vacations, the posts about the hubby giving much needed downtime or the boys weekend away. I applaud you all for making it work. It is work, and keep working at it. (Unless you hit a point where staying isn’t an option…then go…not ready to write about that one.)

This isn’t a woe is me post. It’s a realization post. I do not cry myself to sleep at night because I am alone. I miss feeling real. Yes, I know my children need me, love me, and in many ways are there for me, but it is not the same as adult companionship. The simplicity of just being is what I miss most.

I have no desire to ever be comfortable with being alone. I don’t want to be that person. I read all sorts of blogs about needing to be comfortable alone before you’re comfortable with someone else…blah, blah, blah. If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is around to see it, it still fell. But, when someone comes upon it they will just step over it. They will not wonder when or how or why. It’s just a fallen tree.

This past week, after covering a disturbing case, I needed to feel real again. I needed to feel like everything in the world was not evil or scary or destructive. I needed normal, constant, secure. Here was the exchange that followed:

Me: Nice light news day.

Him: So that kind of makes you like my bond girl.

Me: I’m more like Lois Lane. But I don’t need superman to save me. I just need him to help me unwind from all of this graphic detail and disturbing info I have to report on.

When you report on all that’s wrong in the world, you need to feel something is right.

Him: I hope that ends up in your blog tonight. Well said.

Me: Looking like maybe I get to fly away to Valdez tomorrow.

Him: Cool beans.

Me: Sigh.

The only way I could blog about it is to point out that I don’t have it. The feeling is there. The need, the desire…but that is all.

Maybe I need a new career with flowers, rainbows, bunnies, and ice cream and all that is right with the world. That might be easier to find.