After ten months of unemployment during the Great Recession and feeling like failures for having to move “home” with our one-year-old, Mr. T applied for a job in Alaska. I had a cousin that lived there and she recommended applying in the state since there was no sign of a recession there. Mr. T applied for one job. Within a week of applying, he had his second interview in ten months (this time over the phone), and within two weeks of applying, he had an offer. They asked him when he could start. Since “yesterday” wasn’t an option, the start date was in two weeks. The same day we got the job offer, my cousin walked through a house with a realtor. It was the only house on the market in our price range in a decent area of town (there’s a housing shortage in Alaska). She sent us pictures of its hideous interior (ugly paint colors, low hanging ceiling fans, and oddly-placed bead board make for a great deal!) and told us it was “seven minutes and two moose” away from her own house. We made an offer. All in one day, we got a job offer and bought a house. I had been to Alaska once, but only to a remote island when I was eleven to visit my relative who worked as the local masseuse. Mr. T had never been in the state. Ready to finally live the “American Dream,” we were gifted a snow suit for Penny, and we boarded a plane to move to Alaska just before winter started.
We stayed with my cousin for the first week of Mr. T’s work while we arranged early occupancy on our house. I spent the days on the phone setting up all the “grown-up” stuff one arranges when moving to a new area and quickly realized things were different in Alaska:
- Car Insurance: “Work is about ten miles away from home.” “That’s not possible. Where do you live? That’s eight and a half miles.”
- Homeowner’s Insurance: “Earthquake insurance? I already felt one earthquake. Is that a normal thing? They happen THAT often?”
- Internet: “What’s the bandwidth cap? So if I watch too much Netflix, that will cost extra? Oh, if I watch ANY Netflix, that will cost extra?”
We had our first neighborhood moose sighting within the first week of being in Alaska. He was just walking across the road like he owned the place. And he was huge. We realized that “style” here means Danskos for women and Carhartts for everyone. I also saw a man shopping in nothing but his long underwear and winter coat. I stared at him with my mouth open and was too in shock to tell Mr. T who missed him. This thing doesn’t faze us anymore. After living here five years, I’m lucky if I remember my own pants before heading to the grocery store. And all bets are off for my children.