Originally published in the Peninsula Clarion
Last New Year’s Eve I was at the same event I was for the two previous New Year’s. I rang in 2018 in a duplex on Anchorage’s Southside where my boyfriend, his roommates, new friends and old friends from high school gathered to drink boxed wine and beer.
This year, my boyfriend and I sat by the wood stove watching “Bob’s Burgers,” and after drinking half a beer, I found myself under my comforter, with the lights off, before 9 p.m. It was a great New Year’s.
New Year’s is anticlimactic. Jan. 1 was just another Tuesday for me.
I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. I think we have just as valid of an opportunity to set goals for ourselves and make positive changes in our lives any time of the year.
However, this winter season has me extremely goal-oriented for some reason. Maybe now that I’ve graduated college, I am overwhelmed by the world’s possibilities, or maybe I’m less distracted in life because I can’t get internet at my new house.
Before heading to bed early on New Year’s Eve, I was reminiscing with friends over text about the New Year’s Eve of 2013. A group of friends and I took off to Hawaii for a month. Most of the trip was spent at the condo of my friend Kate’s aunt, but for New Year’s we rented a house through Airbnb on the other side of the island.
The house had limited internet, was walking distance away from a black-sand beach, and had a big outdoor garden with citrus trees, several hammocks and a ladder to a flat roof where we laid and watched the stars every evening. It was a magical space.
The night of New Year’s Eve, we made tacos, popped a bottle of champagne and went around the table diving deep into what made us happy in 2013, and what we wanted to improve in the new year. I told my friends I would travel more in 2014. It was the first time I made a real, conscious New Year’s resolution.
Since I told my friends I would travel more, I had to follow through. In 2014, I was living in a small, dry cabin on 40 acres of birch forest in Fairbanks while I was working for the Alaska Railroad. The six months of isolation I experienced sent me on a journey that started with dropping out of college and ended with me getting on a plane to the Philippines. I needed a change of scenery.
I saved all of my summer earnings and traveled for three months by myself down the West Coast of the United States, couch surfing with family and old friends. Once in Los Angeles, I flew over to Japan and the Philippines, stopping in South Korea and Hong Kong. It was my first time leaving North America. I didn’t set out on a soul-searching adventure, but it inevitably turned into that.
I haven’t set a New Year’s goal since 2013. Despite this, I met goals in 2018 I’ve been working toward for years, like getting a full-time reporter job at a daily newspaper, becoming a business owner and finally graduating from college. These accomplishments are propelling me into 2019.
This New Year’s, I’m making some goals for myself, call them resolutions if you wish. I want to read more books. I hope to cook more, which is something I’ve been doing a lot more of since moving from Anchorage to Kenai this year. Most importantly, though, I want to embrace my new home this new year.
Since moving to Kenai, I’ve taken advantage of our newfound solitude. It’s nice to live in a place where we only have one real neighbor and seeing the aurora borealis doesn’t require a drive to Flattop Mountain where the light pollution is minimal. On clear nights the aurora shines right through our bedroom window.
When I got my job at the Clarion, I was excited to move back to the peninsula, a place associated with happy childhood memories of playing through tall stalks of fireweed, beachcombing at Captain Cook State Recreation Area and swimming in Salamatof Lake near my parents’ Nikiski home. However, as a newfound adult, summer days of no responsibility are long gone, even on the peninsula.
Living here these last eight months or so has been difficult. I miss my friends and family in Anchorage. It was almost too easy to spend time with the people I loved. A simple text or call, and within minutes I could find myself at a brewery with friends or making dinner in the kitchen of a family member’s home. I’ve been lucky to make great friends on the peninsula, but it’s not so easy to meet up when we’re spread across cities and schedules are hectic.
Despite living with my boyfriend and our dog, I feel like I’m alone in that Fairbanks cabin again. Some days are better than others, and some days have me searching for the cheapest flight out of here. Every day things get easier because they become more normal. I am finding joy in the peninsula’s outdoor spaces, which are more abundant and more accessible than my Anchorage neighborhood of Spenard. I brought out my old high school cross-country skis in hopes fluffy snow will return so I can explore a trail I found by my house.
Embracing my new home will come when I embrace the quality of alone time, which is probably best spent exploring the outdoors. Get outside 2019.