I find myself obsessing about Alaska right now. I'm less than a month away from going up for 5 weeks, the longest yet. It occurred to me this morning that I spend about 4 months of the year in this weird borderland: not quite in Alaska, not quite at home. Two totally different worlds, two totally different me's. It's not pleasant. I want to be here in the moment now, taking care of my kids, keeping house, baking bread, watching the chickens take dirt baths. I want to enjoy the end of my son's baseball season, my daughter's foray into full-fledged girlhood with her buddies, my time with my husband. Instead I attend to all of these in a half-world. The other part of me has already crossed the border to Alaska. I'm ticking off lists in my head of what I need to bring: coffee, iPod, books, soap, vitamins, Clif Bars, long underwear; lists of what needs to be done once I get there: order up containers, train a few new guys, get paperwork and the computer system up and running. The mental work-up is in full force right now. I don't want to leave home because it's spring and beautiful and the farmer's markets are bountiful with greens and strawberries.
The same thing happens when I come back. Half of me is still caught up in the intense 24-hour a day world of salmon shipping: the people, the intrigue, the salmon, the salmon, the salmon. The rest of me is trying to put away the forklift-driving, all male-crew running, shipping supervisor person for another year; trying to fit back into my homemaker clothes, my girlfriend conversations about what we're making for dinner, the playdate organizing, the apron wearing and knitting. It takes a good couple months to shed Alaska and fully embrace home.
Both worlds are 100% me. And both worlds are mutually-exclusive. It's so hard to reconcile both, to allow all of me into each because they are different countries. The mental and physical borderlands between the two becomes its own country: a world in-between. Now the trick is to figure out how to embrace this world, too and not feel so torn.