I was born and raised in Alaska. In the north. It is in my veins. Probably, if you put a little drop of my blood under a microscope, you would see tiny salmon swimming through it. And when I had to leave Alaska, well, it was like somebody I loved died. I would never say that of course, to someone else. I would never say, “Gee, Bill, I’m sorry your mother died. I know just what it feels like. Why, when I left Alaska…” Because Bill would probably want to punch me in the nose.

But to me, that’s what it felt like. Like something had died. Like some doctor had ripped out all of my insides and sewed me back up with cotton stuffing. It took forever for me to feel anything again, and even now and then, it still gets to me. It sounds stupid to a lot of people. “It’s just the outdoors. It’s just the view out of your window. What’s the big deal?” But to me, it’s a big deal. I don’t belong in the desert. I never have.

It’s like some Sci-Fi movie when a space ship crashes on some alien planet. After a while, all the other humans start building a colony and having families. But this one guy can’t do that. He keeps tinkering around with the smashed up bits of their old spacecraft. He’s trying to build another one.

“Come on,” the others say to him. “Mars isn’t so bad. The red rocks are really quite attractive.”

But he just looks at them like they’re crazy.

“You don’t understand,” He says. “I’ve got to get back HOME.”

And I’m like that guy. I’ve even tried to fly my little make-shift space ship a couple of times and it keeps crashing. I’d get so frustrated. I’d even get mad at God.

“No,” He says. “It’s not the right time yet. Not there. Not now.”

“When?” I yell. “Hurry up!”


*Note: Update: I am back in the homeland. Not Alaska, but back where I belong, near family and even salmon fishing. I know that sometime in February I am going to look up at the sky and say, “Come on, please? Can you at least let us see the sun so we don’t forget what it looks like?” But then I will remind myself how far I’ve come. If you gave me the choice between going back there or being waterboarded, I would not hesitate with my answer.