I know that saying goodbye to your childhood home is a pretty standard part of growing up for most people. At some point or another, usually after we’ve left home for college or jobs or other adventures, our parents decide that it’s their turn. Whether it’s to downsize, or even to move to more agreeable climes, when the parents determine it’s time to leave, it sets in motion a bittersweet series of goodbyes. Some more difficult than others.
So, this past weekend, I went back to Alaska to do just that: say goodbye to my childhood home. My family has lived in the same house for 21 years – most of my life, and longer even than my youngest sister has been alive. But now that we’re all grown, and my parents have both retired, they wanted to be closer to family. So, they found a cute little lake house in Northern Wisconsin and sold our old home in Alaska…
The trip home this weekend was short – about 60 hours or so – and in that time we packed and sorted and cleaned and remembered. We visited some of our favorite places, ate some of our favorite food, and when the time came to leave for the airport Sunday night, we cried. Driving away from that house for the last time was weird. On one hand, it didn’t feel like the last time I’d be there at all, but on the other, all I could think about was how I didn’t know the next time I’d be in Alaska.
I haven’t lived at home full time in more than 10 years, but this weekend felt like I was officially leaving home for the first time. It is sad to say goodbye to a house and a community I’ve loved so well for so long, but this whole process has given me a chance to reflect on just how lucky we were to have lived in such an amazing place. The memories I have of Alaska are so special, and growing up there has shaped me in so many ways. I will miss being able to go home to Alaska whenever I need to, but I’m so grateful to have been able to call it that at all.
Alaska, I love you. Stay classy.