Holy crap, I live in Alaska!
The moment happens spontaneously and in seemingly random places that have included:
1. Biking back from the grocery store
2. The frozen yogurt place downtown
3. Driving down the road
4. Sitting on the couch staring into nothingness
5. The yarn shop, with a skein of Tree Hugger's Wife yarn in my hand (which, by the way, is the most amazing yarn I've ever worked with and you should check it out here)
I'm told by fellow Juneau-imports that it's not an uncommon experience to have these moments of revelation, and I sort of feel bad for born-and-raised local Alaskans (Living in Alaska Lesson #1: there is a HUGE and nearly unforgivable difference between calling yourself a "local" and a "native") because I doubt they have these sudden moments of awe mixed with insanity--because that's really what living here inspires: a simultaneous mixture of "wow, that mountain is so pretty", "I hate that mountain because it stands in the way of a road getting out of here" and "Hmm, maybe I should get a new pair of Extra Tuffs to wear so I can hike that mountain and then go out to dinner afterwards". I'm thankful for the isolation because it makes possible things like never stepping foot inside a Babies R Us in my life (that store totally freaks me out, even...and maybe more so...with a child) but I curse it when I could really use a Target nearby. Or a Jamba Juice. Or heck, even just fresh produce.
The people here, accordingly, tend to be a little of what my Dad would call the "crunchy granola" type, and I love it. I think I will probably be classified as the "crunchy granola" type if/when we move back to New England, unless people there have relaxed by a factor of about a billion since we left (unlikely). I sometimes stand in awe of the true masters of the "crunchy granola" lifestyle here in Juneau, the people who shop at Rainbow Foods and take part in the bread co-op and wear their Extra Tuffs with skirts or suits and play folk instruments like the fiddle (not to be confused with a violin, ahem). Take, for example, the principal flutist in the Juneau Symphony. She intrigues me. She's a fantastic musician, and from what I've observed from my observation post in the string section, a fantastic person as well. She's one of those rare people who is completely content with herself and doesn't care what others dictate as fashionable or pretty, and she's made all the more beautiful for it. She's the perfect mix of Earth Mama and practiced musician with long, greying hair that has no product whatsoever in it pulled back so she can read her music without interruption from a stray strand. She has no wrinkles. Seriously. I'm 23 and I have more wrinkles than this woman. I fancy that it comes from a life lived in a cabin next to a stream of the freshest water in the world and wearing homespun wool skirts on a daily basis. In reality she probably lives in a condo on Douglas Island and clothing shops at Fred Meyer, but I hold to my fantasy!
I know that someday I'll be somewhere else and someone will come over to visit some afternoon and see a piece of art or a photo or a piece of pottery and say, "How unique, where is that from?" and I'll say "Oh, we used to live in Alaska" and I'll look back wistfully at the adventure of it all and lament that I didn't take better advantage of it while I had the chance. But for now, I'll curse the 18 hours of darkness and ridiculously expensive housing market and continue dropping whatever I'm doing on an occasional basis to realize once again, "Holy crap, I live in Alaska!" And maybe go for a hike this afternoon with Father Thomas when he comes to visit.