Some pondering on an odd 60-degree winter day after a fine summer in Lexington…
I recently passed my anniversary of my time with the Canadian-owned Liquor Barn. It has since returned to being a Kentucky-owned business.
The anniversary prompts me to meditate.
My last two years with the very large group that owned Liquor Barn involved a lot of travel. It probably wasn’t that much travel compared to other hardy folks, but to this fixed-footed Lexingtonian, it was too much travel. Boston, Mobile, Tampa, Montana, Chicago, San Antonio, Phoenix, Washington…and Alaska required visits. These are all places that have interest for me, but for a business trip…meh.
I hated the travel. For those who know me you know I try to use the word “hated” rarely and with deliberate thought. The air travel that was a delight in the 60-70’s has decayed from delight to ordeal. Hotels are amazing…but not my home. They try to substitute free breakfast, daily clean linens, and tiny plastic bottles of shampoo, for my wife, my critters, and my trusty roster of pizza delivery partners. LOUD BUZZER; thank you for playing.
Given that, I generally enjoyed my times in Alaska. There were things that stirred me to think;
- Alaska’s young. They just recently celebrated their 100th anniversary. We have neighborhoods in Lexington twice that age. There are whole periods of architecture not present in Alaska because of that youth. To quote one of my favorite songwriters; “It feels like something’s bein’ born.” There were no buildings in Anchorage that didn’t scream; “We think this is the way to be, but check with us tomorrow, we may change our mind.”
- Anchorage seemed often suffused by an “end-of-the-continent Western light.” I’m paraphrasing Jack Kerouac’s description of a late 1940’s San Francisco. When this happened in Anchorage, I felt like I was walking in a nickel postcard from the 1950’s, a fantasy ideal of possibilities, again quoting Kerouac; “What will happen! Hey!!”
- Alaska is young but it lives in the shadow of instant destruction every day. Earthquakes and tsunamis…we don’t let those things affect our days in Kentucky.
- The color pallet of Alaska seems to only include 12-14 shades of green, not the 1,248 we have in Kentucky. That’s a serious problem for me.
- High humidity lingers for 15 minutes in Anchorage, not the four generations we occasionally live through in the Bluegrass State.
- The distances that are part of Alaskans’ lives dwarf ours. No, they double dwarf ours. Their state capitol is a 750-mile flight over water away from their home, not a twenty-minute drive from my house. On clear days, Anchorage citizens can see Mt. Denali. That’s the equivalent of me walking out on my front porch and seeing Indianapolis. Damn!
- Their mountains are towering, jagged, snow-covered, around the corner, and intimidating as hell. Ours are round, green, womb-like, enveloping, and seductive on the horizon.
- Their nights are sharp and invigorating, challenging us to plunge ahead into the night’s adventures. Ours are soft, narcotic (thank you, Tom Waits), and contemplative, inviting us to go for a stroll with our ghosts.
All that being said, let me be clear; I enjoyed being in Alaska, not going to Alaska. It was a lo-o-o-ng journey for this geezer.