Columns 2003

How many breakups can one city have?

I think it is just wrong of God or any higher power in this universe to expect Alaskans to endure two break ups in one year.  So whoever it is in charge of the weather, I’m giving you fair warning. I’d better not see snow falling and cold weather returning at this point in the year.

Of course, I’m also not sure I can handle cloudy skies and rain from now till next November.  If I had wanted that kind of weather, I’d have gone to Juneau. I came to Anchorage because in all my years of stopping here on my way to Barrow, it seemed as though there was an actual winter season. When I was choosing where to move to, it seemed like Anchorage offered the best of both worlds – the doctors I needed and the winter I loved.

Of course I realize I could have also moved to Fairbanks for that combination but there is something about Fairbanks that can be slightly scary.  I don’t know how exactly to define it but it just seemed wisest to continue south till I hit Anchorage.

The worse part of all this is that my family on the East Coast is holding me personally responsible for the winter they are enduring.  Apparently, Anchorage’s weather is making news in the local papers of the Northeast right next to the words, “More cold and snow forecast for our area.” My sister called me and in a very accusatory tone announced that the local media in Atlantic City was covering the news about the opening of golf courses in Alaska in February.  She wanted to warn me that our brother, a golf fanatic who makes Tiger Woods look like a casual observer of the game, was totally unamused by this news as he headed further and further south looking for a place to play.

As the temperatures hover in the 20s to 30s ranges in Philly and New York, I get e-mails from disgruntled cousins asking me how come Anchorage is in the 40s – as though I personally had something to do with it.  Their theory is that the weather got cold on the East Coast when I was there for Thanksgiving and hasn’t gotten warm since then.  They accuse me of bringing Alaska’s winter to them and then high tailing it back to the relative warmth and comfort of Anchorage.

I try to temper their anger by explaining what it’s like to wake up every day to a world of rain, gloom, mud, muck and dreariness.  If I remember rightly, this is what we call springtime in Alaska. I try to tell them about the horrors of taking your dog for a walk during breakup as the snow layer melts to reveal the perfect layer of ice underneath.  They are not impressed. Apparently in the parts of the Northeast where my family lives, the snow falls in the morning and starts melting by evening.  They have apparently become quite well acquainted with the concept of breakup as a daily occurrence.

My sister has taken to her bed on some mornings and refuses to even try to back her little red bug out of the driveway.  If a friend whose husband brings her to work in a pick up truck did not stop by to get my sister too, she would probably have missed most of the past two months of work.

And yet I still find it hard to sympathize with them, no matter what threats they make about sending the Italian Evil Eye northward so that every time I look at pasta I gain 10 pounds.  Because I know that by March they will have warm sunlight and by April little buds will be peaking above the ground in what soon will be their blooming flowerbeds. 

I am equally sure that in March we will be facing four foot of snow covering three foot of ice, all of which at breakup will turn our streets and yards into muddy swimming holes that encourage the growth of alien life forms best left undiscovered, which will then be tracked into our homes by children, pets and spouses.

As I said before, no one should have to go through two break ups in one year. It’s just more than a human being ought to be asked to bear.