I know I grumble a lot about living in Alaska, but when I capture a beautiful view like this one simply by walking outside, I’m nothing but grateful. Good morning, friends. I thought as this is the week of Thanksgiving, I’d take the days leading up to the holiday to share what I am most thankful for.
I never thought I would live in a place like this, and hadn’t lived anywhere except the Midwest up until June 2012. I call Missouri home (and plan to return there in however many months) and got to enjoy Kansas for three and a half years in my early twenties. Only in my wildest dreams could I have pictured myself here. I remember when we first found out Ethan’s next stop was AK when he was stationed in Virginia for AIT– my heart stopped. Alaska. It seemed so far away… so foreign. At the time I wondered how I would ever get to visit Ethan and didn’t know I’d be marrying him so soon and starting our lives together after I graduated college. Then a diamond was on my finger days after Christmas and I had to reevaluate everything. My life changed just like that. And while it has had its rocky moments, I think it has overall been for the better.
After sitting down with my mom to discuss “the future,” which encompassed everything from changing my last name to buying a car, we reflected on how little time she and I had together before I started this new Alaskan adventure with Ethan, who was already there and waiting for me. And although it pained both of us to think about the distance that would soon separate us, she– in all her wisdom– told me it would be for the best for our new marriage. She said that being so far away would give us the time to learn to lean on each other, to communicate with one another and find our own way of doing things, without the pressure of the different sides of the family within running distance if things got tough. And of course things got tough because that’s what marriages are made of. The good and the bad. The ups and the downs. The smiles and the tears.
For a while, Ethan and I were all we had up here in Alaska. And Simon too. The three of us have grown closer than I would have thought possible, shared things that give me such peace of mind as I say my prayers at night. Ethan has made me laugh more than I ever have and laughter is the way to my heart, over and over again. In the time we’ve spent here, Ethan has become so affectionate with Simon, it melts my heart to see them together…sometimes ganging up on me for being a stickler for the rules. But I love them so so much, and it is here that our love has really deepened.
Since the almost two years Ethan has been stationed at JBER and the one and a half years I’ve been here beside him, we have expanded our unit to a few close friends that we will be sharing Thanksgiving with. Our Alaskan family. We come from different states, different backgrounds and upbringings, but amazingly Alaska brought us together. I can see these people in my life for much longer than we all will be stationed here. But for now, we get to enjoy spending the holidays with them…with the backdrop of these majestic mountains, forging our own traditions filled with love.
And because of all these things, I am grateful for this big state.