I spend the last week of my time in Alaska on Kodiak Island. In order to explore, several times a day I hitch rides. By now my thumb is seasoned, and yet still I heed the advice Rob in Homer had given me: when a car stops for you, ask them where they are headed. This gives you an out, should you get bad vibes. Always listen to your instincts. Each misty day on Kodiak I hitch out to Fort Abercrombie to wander the rocky beaches and rusty, hollowed-out bunkers from World War II. Evenings find me strolling the boat harbor in town. One night the full moon lights up the water so much I can almost see through the black.

 

Most nights I have a seafood dinner at a small table in a quiet restaurant, absorbed in a good book. I turn in early at the hotel, a basic room with a bed and a shower and not much else, but it’s all I need. I make the most of the short daylight, which doesn’t appear till 10am and is long gone by 6. Besides my visits to the beach, one day I visit a historical Russian Orthodox church, the next day the Kodiak Island Marine Life Center, where I meet an octopus up close. The attendant is really into octopuses, enthusiastically talking to me about the slimy creatures as one wraps around his hand. He doesn’t care, like this kind of thing happens all the time.

 

On my last day on Kodiak I hitch out to my usual spot at Fort Abercrombie. I sit and watch the gray skies change with the wind, and the sea slosh and wash anew. Under an overhang I find rock cairns, short stacks of little rocks, the top rock balanced, despite all the typical wind and rain. With tears sneaking into my eyes I sit on the rocky beach and say goodbye to Alaska, the place with the chainsaws and hard ground and steel toes, the place that finally quelled The Discontent. 

 

 

On my layover at the Phoenix airport I lunch at a Chili’s, a chain I frequented often before I left. I seek out a quiet corner table in the busy restaurant. I stare at a large, awkward menu. A waitress bustles over. “What’ll it be?”

 

I order what I always used to, a burger. 

 

“How would you like that done?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Ya know, medium, rare, well-done?”

 

“Medium I guess.”

 

“Fries or chips?”

 

“Fries.”

 

“And for a side?” She is talking loud, and I don’t know why.

 

“A side?”

 

She rattles off my choices. “Coleslaw, salad, green beans, or corn on the cob.”

 

I begin to feel dizzy. 

 

“Can you repeat that slower?” 

 

She pronounces each item like she’s teaching new words to a kindergartner. “Coleslaw, salad, green beans, or corn on the cob.”

Finding Home continues...
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About Lorna Rose


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I write poetry and creative nonfiction. My work has appeared in Red Fez, Tribe Magazine, Mothers Always Write, and is forthcoming in Literary Mama. I grew up in the Chicago area and now live in Washington State. Because mountains. Most of my time is spent fantasizing about being interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air...read more.
1 comments
Discussion
  2 months ago
Thank you for letting me into your world of culture shock and homecoming...I have had similar experiences and know that I haven't processed them very well. Your writing is personal but touches on the universal experience, especially for those of us who avoid analyzing aspects of it.

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