Once in a Lifetime

The Quickest Way To Hear (Your) God Laugh (How Did I Get Here PART II)

I had plans.

With my newly created single life I was going places (literally). First on the list was Alaska and then, after 17 days, I’d go back to CA, regroup and head to Thailand and just keep going from there. I was free and it was time to make use of it.


The last load to storage before departure. Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin.

Alaska because I felt as if a rope in my gut was pulling me there.

Thailand because I wanted to learn to surf, brah.

As I stocked up on items for Alaska I also acquired items for the other leg of the trip (even though I hadn’t bought a ticket or made any real plans). Sundresses and sandals would wind up in my haul of long underwear and bear spray (ya know, to avoid a “https://www.youtube.com/embed/YOlkeDrqozw“>The Revenant” situation, please).

I came home one day and my girlfriend giggled as I shuffled in two pairs of heeled sandals.

“Those will be super useful in Alaska, huh?” she wink-winked me, almost as if she knew I wouldn’t be back for them.

My intention was to be on my own merry way. Do my own thing on my own schedule. I never even began to think that those heels would gather dust in my storage unit.


A whole life (sandals included) in one little box


Plan: I’d get to Alaska and out of my comfort zone and then find some killer waves, dude.

Every time I think back to that trajectory I planned for myself I think of a quote I recently learned:

“Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh” (David Milch)

And I was shouting these plans from the rooftop. I should have heard the thunderous laughing from above that must have followed my announcements but stubborn ears are deaf to opposition and I just kept on planning and meeting with friends and asking for tips on places to go post AK (thanks DW).

Once in Alaska (see last week’s post here describing the journey in) I was still convinced my future held beaches but succumbed to the reality that something was telling me to stay (shouting it actually). I was in for a quick summer stop-over, Alaska style. So I started to look into staying. First thing’s first: money. Leaving for Alaska had meant buying a lot of items I just didn’t have in my arsenal (see: bear spray, a headlamp, hiking shoes…I had thought I was way more outdoorsy than my existing equipment suggested) so I hadn’t exactly been flush to begin with and I didn’t plan on bleeding myself dry in the funds department.

And just like that a job offer came.

My girlfriend introduced me to a friend who was starting a food truck. He needed help. I needed a job.

Boom! Employment (Thank you, MacChina).

We were fast friends, I mean sheesh, I’m a girl who likes to eat and he’s a chef. What could be better? Friend match made in heaven.


Not a bad view to whistle while you work

Ok, so money problem taken care of but now where to stay?

My girlfriend said I could build a platform on her property and camp there for the summer. I’d need to find or have lumber hauled in from Anchorage and find a tent and bear wire (WHAT?! Who even knew that existed and thank you to whomever created it). Since all of that was a lot to acquire we also decided to keep an ear out for places for rent.

And so it was settled.

Until it wasn’t.

Because this is where The Chief enters the story and my exit plans disappear without my realizing it.

I met him my first night in “town” at the local (see: only) watering hole. We had talked for 30 minutes (unbeknownst to us) before my girlfriend came to check on me. Was this furry mountain man bothering me? I hadn’t even felt the time pass. I was a goner.

But I’m a stubborn one and clung to my singledom like a kid to a cupcake. Ain’t happenin’, Captain. I’ve got plans.

And then the thunderous laughing from the sky began again. I told my boss at the food truck (one of his best friends) that it was no biggie. It was just a fling. It had to be, right? I should have felt bad lying so blatantly but I thought I was telling the truth. He would just smile and say “Ok, see you in the morning, neighbor” since when I was at The Chief’s house we lived a quick walk through the woods away from one another. He knew. Everyone knew.

People I didn’t know would come up to me in town and say how happy they were for us.


I’m in an Us?

No way Jose. Not this little Senorita. I’m a solo artist. I mean, that’s the plan.


But…work on the platform was at a standstill.


The Proposed Platform Site (aka a pile of somewhat flattened rocks)

I spent the better portion of a day trying to flatten the site but I still didn’t have building supplies.

I asked my boss to order the materials.

I asked The Chief.

I asked in the way that you ask for a fruit cup in place of dessert at a restaurant.

Everyone knows what’s happening. Everyone knows the deal except for you because you’re trying to convince yourself that you want the fruit cup.

It’s smarter.



(Not to call living on her property a fruit cup, it would have been a big time dessert just not the one I was meant to have)

And so I eventually let go…

and ordered dessert.


I was basically living with The Chief (though still in denial about it, I mean just because all of my stuff is there and we were grocery shopping together doesn’t mean I live there, right?) but one Taco Tuesday night we made it official.

Living with someone you’ve just met is insane.

Living with someone who’s never lived with a girlfriend is a recipe for disaster.

Living with someone after just getting out of a 7 year relationship is a rebound.


All of these judgements circled my head but the laughter from above was finally gone. I had stopped making plans and jumped into the flow and it had carried me straight to him.

Now, don’t get me wrong, moving into a perma-bachelor den was interesting (to say the least) but it immediately felt like home.

Pretty soon the question put to me by locals switched from:

“So, are you staying the summer?”


“So, are you staying the winter?”

Ha! Winter! That’s cute.

Nope. No way.


And before I knew it I was planning for winter.


A friend in CA that had watched me go through the breakup said that it seemed like I had changed my plans all for some guy and he was worried I would lose my trajectory (and never get to Thailand).

Fair enough. And thank goodness for friends who shoot it straight (Thank you N).

But I hadn’t lost my trajectory. I had ended up exactly where I was supposed to be. This was scary to accept and hard to defend when oppositions from myself and others started coming in but all I could counter with was that it just felt right. I felt at peace.

I realized that Thailand had been a sort of safety net. A “planned” next move to let me feel safe in the uncertainty of Alaska and open me up to it’s possibilities. Leaving Alaska simply because that was the plan I had announced would have been the biggest mistake I’d ever made, The laughter from above would have been deafening, even to these stubborn ears.

Trying to preserve my pride just to avoid judgement that I was jumping in too fast or giving up my plans for “some guy” would have led me away from where I’m supposed to be. And there’s a difference between standing up to oppositions because you don’t want to be wrong and standing up because you know you’re right, even if all you have for proof is a feeling.

Plus, staying in AK didn’t mean I wouldn’t go elsewhere, it just meant I didn’t want to go now.

Now was for seeing if when the fireweed flowers disappeared and the rocky ground became snow and the town went from hundreds to (maybe) 30 people if this was still where I was supposed to be.

Lucky for me, it was and it is.

That doesn’t mean everything is unicorns and puppies and dessert every meal. We are real. We are human. We disagree and get fussy just like anyone else, that’s just life.

And even though at times being out here is a challenge and a constant departure from the creature comforts I wouldn’t trade a nearby grocery store or electricity for anywhere or anyone else.

But I wouldn’t complain if a chocolate shop happened to open next door.


Summertime. Home sweet home in the woods.


// All credit for our coming together goes to the town as a whole, our next-door neighbors and a Subaru get away vehicle powered by Marvin Gaye. Were it not for them, we wouldn’t have been forced into seeing what was right in front of us. Thank you. //


And You May Ask Yourself Well, How Did I Get Here? PART I

If you’ve never heard the Talking Heads song Once in a Lifetime please, please go listen to it. Like, now. Here

O.k, now that we have that out of the way…


For me this song has always been a sort of January 1st reflection.

A “Hey girl, how’s it going over there? You good?”

A chance to check-in.

To re-work the play book, if needed.

Because sometimes you wake up and ask yourself:

Well, how did I get here?

One morning last May I awoke to that question and to the realization that this was not my life. Suddenly it didn’t fit. I loved it in so many ways and at the same time, it no longer worked. All of the things that had been holding me into my patterns were suddenly gone. I had sold my business, quit my job that I needed to make ends meet while the business grew, and had realized that my 7 year relationship was over. I was suddenly on my own without a place or a person to check in with.

The first question was: where will you stay? And the first answer in my head was a girlfriend’s house (if she would have me) that I adored and had spent time with and wanted to know better but had never experienced something like a 7-year breakup with. I called anyways and she took me under her wing (Thank you, DCG.). It was the first of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The next question was: what next? And it lead to the second best choice I’ve ever made: Alaska.


“What the hell is in Alaska?” Was a pretty common question put to me (and one I put to myself).

I didn’t know, I just knew I had to go. The more I thought about it, the less sense it made but I knew it was right.

Another girlfriend (again, another friend that I really admired and wanted to know better but had never spent all that much time with alone) owned a guiding business in a small “town” in Alaska and had put out open invitations for friends to visit. I’d always wanted to but I’m not sure I ever truly believed I would make it. I grew up watching my brother leave every summer to fish the season in Alaska and always felt like it was some boy’s club I was denied access to. Now I had to go. Luckily, her invite was still good.

A request to visit for 17 days is a big thing to ask of even your closest friend she didn’t even bat an eye and told me “Just book it!” (thank you sweet BB). So I did. I had no idea how I would get from Anchorage to where she lived but in true Alaska style she told me not to worry, it always works out.


My last view of California


And it did.


My first view of Alaska

When I arrived, one of my girlfriend’s friends was in Anchorage on her way home (to where my friend lived). Together we did my first Town Run (see my earlier post about the dreaded Town Run here). The idea of meeting and heading into a twelve hour day with a total stranger is enough to give me a serious pitter patter of anxiety but it was so easy with her. The luck of the Irish, perhaps? Or maybe Alaska is just stocked with as many great people as they are fish. She showed me the town ropes and soon we were off. The more she told me about her home the more I wanted to love it. But I was scared I wouldn’t.

I remember thinking to myself that maybe I could live there. But then immediately shooting down the idea.

Uh huh, live in Alaska.

No electricity.

No running water.


Naw dawg, but thanks.

About eleven hours into our day we finally got to the turn off for the road home. It would be about an hour trip to her house or a two plus return time to take me all the way to my friend’s house and…we couldn’t get through to her (phones can be funny out here). She graciously offered to let me stay with her.

She lived on a lake with her fiancee and two pups. We swatted an onslaught of mosquitoes as we opened the truck doors to the still light sky at 10 at night and ran to get our stuff packed into the boat and over to the house. A few trips later all the perishables and necessities were tucked away, nothing got wet and the drive was over (for now). Time to break into the Costco bounty and toast to a run well done. (Thank you J+K).

The next day, thanks again to my hosts, I made it to my final location. My girlfriend wouldn’t be home for a few hours but she gave me a few basic guidelines:

The fridge is to the right of the stairs (to put away perishables).

If you want to cook anything make sure the propane is connected and on (Umm…I’ve only seen this done while at a BBQ and I was paying more attention to my cookout compadres than any connection lessons. But hey, Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty, right?)

The outhouse is for numero dos only – number one is for the great outdoors (umm, outhouse? I did not plan on that. Thinking back now, it seems pretty obvious)


Watch out for bears

…so I hurriedly unloaded our mountain of supplies into the house.

I admit this with embarrassment, but in the vein of honesty, I was like a groundhog in that house. I would pop my head out the door, look both ways and run outside for supplies, then run back in. I was genuinely afraid of bears. It seemed like they were likely everywhere and I was pretty certain one would sneak up on me mid pee and at the very least I’d fall off the mountain, very most I’d be bear dinner. I’ve never peed so fast. Every time I went (ran) inside I locked the door behind me. Boom! Bear-proof, right?

I tried and tried to find the refrigerator. No luck. How hard could a fridge be to find?

Finally somewhat settled physically I looked out upon the glaciers and mountains in front of me. It was a dark and overcast summer day and I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into. I felt helpless. This place was too big, too far and too isolated. I was trying to get over a breakup by way of distance and distraction – this just made me feel inward and alone.

So, like a grown up…I called my mom.

And then I cried.

And then when I was done she said:

“Give it a few days and see how it feels and then if you don’t like it, heck, I’ll come get you.”

This made it seem even more hopeless.

  1. Because at nearly 30 my Mom was offering to rescue me and
  2. Because Mom, I love you but there’s literally no way you could have found me out there. I was 60 miles down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t even have figured how to get back to the lake much less Anchorage.

So I buckled up for the 17 days.

And with that, I resolved to do my best but…

It was clear I had made a big mistake.

The first night with my girlfriend we went into “town” (where on the way in I did see a bear. Groundhogs unite!) where one of the guides whom I had met earlier in the day came up to me and said “You’re gonna stay. I can feel it” and I just laughed. Why? How? I am counting down the days, fella.

But he was right.

Something had been planted. Something started creeping in and as I acclimated, I realized that my wish to turn and run was out of fear. Fear of the unknown and fear of isolation and the choice was simple: jump or stand still – letting the days go by.

I jumped in as head first as I could. It probably looked more like a belly flop but it felt swan dive-ish.

Two days and a serious 180 later I felt totally disconnected from the frets of my first day. I was exactly where I needed to be.


My first girlfriend was the best landing pad I can think of because she helped me to leave the place I called home and into a new safe haven. My second girlfriend was the best launching pad because she forced me from the nest. (She also eventually came home to show me where the “refrigerator” was – a lined hole in the ground – to the right of the stairs – that had a system of baskets inside. Genius! I certainly wasn’t looking for a hole with bear-proofing rocks on top. Alaskan lessons learned: 1. Learn to think outside of the (ice)box and 2. Refrigeration is an art form and iced drinks are a treat in summer in Alaska. More on that in a later post).

While pushing me from the nest and climbing down into a cave in the glacier, water rushing and the opening getting smaller and smaller I shouted to her:

“I’m actually a bit claustrophobic!” Meaning: let’s turn this party around, eh?

She replied:

“Me too!” and kept going. And I needed that.


We should climb into that hole in the ice. Obviously.


A time when you actually do want to go towards the light.

And that’s how I got here. By taking a leap of faith, second guessing it too many times to count and still moving forward with my gut leading the way.

That’s why (the hell) Alaska.

But I’m still here after the 17 days have long passed.


Stay tuned.


From Alaska.