Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Left My Heart (and my coat) In Alaska

On Saturday morning I left Aniak, very sad to go and leave the beautiful area and friends old and new. I got up on Saturday morning to find that the river outside the window which had been mostly unmoving ice for the rest of my stay was now flowing freely. Break-up had arrived and they were all looking forward to being able to go out in their boats at last. People would just stand and watch the river and see the big ice mountains caused by ice crashing into ice.
Cheryl took me for a final ride around the village and I took a few photos, including this one of the fairground, submerged in water and suffering the wear and tear of winter storms.

And then it was off back to Anchorage, on planes that I wasn't allowed to fly any more. It was strange being back in a city. There were cars and people and shops and real airports and roads. As I sat on the plane I felt a jab up my nose. I couldn't work out what it was. I looked down and the underwire from my bra had poked itself free and was making a bid for freedom. I tried surreptitiously to shove it back but it was having none of it so I casually whipped it out and stuffed it in the back of the seat pocket. The next person in that seat will think it's a vital piece of safety equipment.

My hotel in downtown Anchorage was the gorgeous Historic Anchorage hotel. For some reason I was upgraded to a suite. Shame I wasn't going to be able to make the most of that as I had to leave Anchorage at 4.30 the next morning. I dumped my bags and it was off for a flying visit to Nordstroms. I had an hour and a half to buy presents and shoes. Several presents and four pairs of shoes later it was off for a quick trip to see my friend Sylvia. It was all too brief but a lovely visit all the same, and then I met up with some of the lovely Alaska Sisters in Crime members for a meal and drinks at Rumrunners.

After that, it was off to my plush suite to finish packing (luckily, all the books and pens and sweets and biscuits I had taken had been given away so I now had room in my suitcase for my new shoes) and a few hours sleep - interrupted at 2am by a drunk man outside my window shouting "I'm a mean mother****** and I can kick anyone's ass." He shouted it about 4 times then apparently fell over because his next shouted phrase was "Ow, I hurt my knee." Yep. Some mean mother****** he was.

Last time I was in America I left my coat in San Francisco. This time, I left it in Anchorage airport. I will soon have a coat in every state.

The trip home was uneventful - unless you count the stramash one of the gifts I had bought caused at security in Amsterdam. Four big men with guns surrounded my hand luggage. They put it back through the security thing three times, then eventually opened it, took stuff out and put it back through. Still apparently the same problem. I waited patiently, slightly worried because I had stupidly put my powdered butter in my hand luggage. Powdered butter is not yellow. It's white. I had what looked like a plastic bag full of cocaine in my handluggage. I was starting to sweat. One of the security men delved into my bag and pulled something out, looking at me accusingly. Luckily it wasn't my powderred butter. It was a brown plastic rubber toy shaped like a dogbone that had 'Alaska' written on it. He squeezed it. It squeaked. That seemed to satisfy them and they re-packed my hand luggage and waved me on. So let that be a lesson, kids. Just say no to rubber dog toys.

And so, I am home, and back to normality. I've already had several e-mails from the students - some have sent me stories and poems, some are just saying hello, and my friend Brad wants me to go to his graduation next year. I will go back, and if there's any way I can be there I will be at Brad's graduation. It feels like my second home.

I love the place - the surrounding scenery is majestic and very beautiful, the schools are a bright and positive place to be, everyone is extremely welcoming and friendly and, above all, the students are very very special to me. I left a little piece of my heart behind the very first year I went and I've added more each time I've been since. Plus, of course, there's a little bit of my stomach from where I flew the damn plane. In place of body parts I have loads of wonderful memories of places visited, old friends re-visited, new friends made, hugs given and received, new experiences, adventures galore, some wonderful writing, lots of laughs, and a few tears.

Bye for now Kuspuk School District. I'll see you again soon.

Lots of love, Donna xxxxx


bookwitch said...

A coat can be left more than once?

I think you'll find someone will hijack a plane with that remnant of your bra, you know.

Four pairs? That's good, given the time you had.

Anonymous said...

For a woman so passionate about shoes, I notice your feet are oddly absent in most of the photos of you.

What is there about your feet and shoes you don't want us to know? Heh?


Donna said...

It was a DIFFERENT coat each time...as you well know, And I was quite impressed with myself on the shoe front.

Lymaree - it's not my shoes I don't like, it's my hips...