Columns 2000

Visitors who would never visit Barrow swarm Anchorage home

A few months ago I wrote in this column that I was going to put a potted plant on my stove when I moved

to Anchorage and then start with the A’s and work myself down to the Z’s of every restaurant here.  I guess I was having a bit of an overreaction to the dearth of restaurants available in Barrow during my 28 year tenure there.

Well, let me tell you something. That old truism that you should be careful what you wish for cause you might get it is – well, how else can I put it – true.  Since arriving in Anchorage mid-summer I have had more company in my new home than during my entire lifetime in Barrow.  This has meant eating out on a disgustingly regular basis since it’s hard to run home from Girdwood for lunch. By the time the last visitor left, I would have killed for a salad and some pasta tossed in olive oil eaten in front of my TV while dressed in a nightshirt.

My mother actually came to Alaska this year after ducking the issue forever with the statement that she wouldn’t go to Barrow but might come to Anchorage if I ever moved there. Well, she was now forced to put her money where her mouth was. My mother’s reaction to Alaska was fairly interesting.  It helped me understand her decided reluctance to ever visit me in Barrow.  Considering what she expected to find in Anchorage, she must have truly believed that for the past 3 decades I was close to falling off the edge of the earth in Barrow.

My friend Grace accompanied her on the trip.  Grace told me that as they transferred in Houston from their Philadelphia flight to their Anchorage flight (don’t ask – it was apparently the cheapest ticket), Marian kept looking at all the people getting on the plane and wondering out loud why they would all be going to Anchorage. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out what they planned to do there or why they’d want to be there.  And when she saw the traffic on Minnesota as we came from the airport, she was shocked that Alaska not only had a highway but so many cars.

When I drove her around a very nice housing area near my home, she again exclaimed in wonder that these houses existed at all in Alaska.  She kept asking what people could possibly do here that would allow them such beautiful homes.  I think she secretly wondered why, if they could afford those homes, they didn’t build them somewhere a lot closer to civilization.

Soon after my mother and Grace left, I got a call from a college friend I’d not seen since the summer after our college graduation. Joyce and her husband were coming to Alaska and had planned to visit me in Barrow. However, when she called Barrow, my number had been disconnected. So she called the post office there to see if they had a forwarding number or address.  They didn’t but told her a good friend of mine was standing at the window and they’d ask her for it.  Caroline had it memorized of course because she’s one of those special ed. teachers who do things like that to annoy us mere mortals.

Joyce and her husband arrive in about a week. I’ve set my car on automatic for the drive to Portage, Girdwood, the Native Heritage Center and the zoo.  I’ve set my stomach on automatic for Tums.  And I look forward to the break the cold and dark of winter will afford me from all this activity. 

Oh wait – that’s right – my sister will be coming in November. Oh well, she’s seen me eating pasta in my nightshirt before. She’ll get over it.