The Alaskan meltdown, a fat ass and a whole lot of frustration

“I’m going to go sit on the decking and write in my journal, you should come out” Blonde called as she descended the stairs. “Cool” I responded, grabbing my computer and sunglasses to follow her. I only made it as far as the living room, where I found Alaska spread out on the couch “tired?” I asked, propping my belongings on the floor and climbing over his legs to sit in the corner on the chair.

“Yeah, lot of driving recently” he admitted wearily. “Sure you don’t mind us staying a few more days, since we’ve missed our flight and don’t really have a choice?” I questioned, “actually, yeah, can you leave” he smiled, “course, can you give us a lift to Geo’s? I’m sure his family will take us in, plus provide cookies and warm blankets! What have you ever done for us?” I played along. “Oh I don’t know, take you camping” he fought back, “where I almost froze to death” I interjected, “drive you on a 12 hour round trip to a national park” he offered “and leave us stranded, forced to hitch-hike and almost getting arrested” I interrupted. “Hey! You liked the ride with the state trooper!” he pointed his finger at me to make his point. “All I’m saying is we don’t get any cookies here. A few cookies might be nice is all!” I smiled.

cookies

“What are you guys talking about?” Blonde asked, appearing at the door leading onto the decking. “Cookies” I answered, she placed her book on the floor and sat opposite us with crossed legs “I’d like a cookie”. “See!” I turned to Alaska, satisfied my point had been made.

“I don’t know, after a few months they just leave” Alaska explained. “But why? What happened with the last one?” Blonde asked. Conversation had fallen onto relationships, Alaska was in the process of explaining why his only lasted a few months. “Ok, well, she was weird, she turned around and she broke up with me because she said that I was too eloquent” he laughed “I guess I made her feel inferior because I used too big of words” he laughed again.

I was confused “no wait, you don’t talk like you’ve swallowed a dictionary, that doesn’t make sense, what did she actually say?”. “She said I was too eloquent!” he looked annoyed, I asked again “no I want to hear exactly what she said, word for word”. He huffed “I don’t know! She said I made her feel bad about the way she felt and the way she felt was that she didn’t want to be in a relationship and I asked her why she didn’t want to be in a relationship, which was because I made her feel bad about the way she felt but the way she felt was that she didn’t want to be in a relationship” he spun his fingers in the air, drawing a circle “see the bullshit? Fucking cyclical logic and she ended the conversation by saying I was too eloquent?” he finished, sitting straighter, the line between his eye brows creased. Blonde and I paused for a second before saying in unison “that’s not what she was saying!”

confused jon snow

“Do you get it?” I turned to Blonde laughing that we both heard the same thing, “yes! That’s not what she was saying!” she smiled back. “What? What are you talking about?” Alaska asked, frustration growing in his eyes. “That’s not what she was saying, you weren’t listening” I answered.

Alaska became defensive, pulling his legs up to his chest, annoyance bristling through the frowns of his forehead “well tell me then!” he snapped. “Well repeat the last thing you just said” Blonde stated, “that I was too eloquent?” he asked, “no not that” said Blonde. “What the cyclical bullshit?” he tried, we laughed “no, the last bit”. He lashed out, throwing an arm in Blonde’s direction aggressively “well don’t dangle the fucking carrot, you’re both just laughing at me!” he was angry. I leant across the couch, wrapping arms around him in a bid to calm the agitation, he tried to resist but was unable to break my hold so sulked inside himself. “We’re not laughing at you, it’s just you only heard the words, you weren’t listening to what she was actually saying” I attempted to make him understand however he was so livid at feeling we’d been making fun at him, it took another fifteen minutes until he’d calmed down enough to listen, with a wave of his hand I was given permission to continued.

understanding women

“Well what was she saying then?” he asked. I looked at Blonde “you want to go?”. “No, you explain things better than I do” she instructed. “Ok, well, she was insecure about the relationship and where it was going.  She was looking for support and reassurance from you! But you didn’t hear that, you took the words she used literally and not the general expression of how she was feeling. This didn’t make sense to you, so you asked her to explain. She was trying to but didn’t know how to make her feelings clear for you to understand, by you questioning her choice of words, she ended up talking herself into a corner, then became frustrated at her point not being heard and tried one last attempt at making herself understood by summing it up as you being too ‘eloquent’. Unfortunately all you heard was ‘I’m dumping you because you speak better than me, you’re eloquent’. She meant that you take every word so literally and didn’t really understand what was she was trying to say, do you see?” I finished.

He pulled away “but that doesn’t make any sense” he looked confused. “Ok, umm let me try another example” I thought for a second “oh, ok, so my ex and I would have these fights, we’d go to bed and he’d ask what was wrong, I’d say I was tired, what would you do in that situation?” I asked. “Well you said you were tired, so I’d go to sleep” he decided. “No! That’s the worst thing! I was never saying I was tired and needed sleep, I was tired of the argument, the stress, fighting, situation, etc etc etc, that all I wanted was to be hugged and told it would all be ok” I complained. “Well that’s stupid, why not just say that?” Alaska questioned, that frown between his eyes returning. “Because we’re female, we feel stuff and think those feelings are obvious to men, but men only hear the words, not all the important things left unsaid”. “But it doesn’t make any sense” Alaska concluded.

not listening

“I’m going to go to bed” Blonde rose from her spot, gathering up her jumper and book. “If you’re going up, can you take my stuff with you?” I asked, passing up my computer and sunglasses, she piled them on top on her book, balancing with one arm. My sunglasses skidded across the top of the laptop, threatening to fall, she caught them with her other hand, squeezing them tight ‘ooh please don’t crush them’ I thought as she walked away.

At Blonde’s departure, Alaska and I returned to the conversation as I tried to explain the inner workings of a women’s mind and the complexities of how we communicate “but it’s stupid!” he keep saying “it doesn’t make any sense”. I asked how he dealt with situations, with friendships, emotions, relationships etc. His mother hadn’t been the most desirable of parents, leaving him and his brother from a young age, tearing a scar into his heart that he’d patched up with words. “So, wait, any problem you’ve ever had you’ve just thought it through and worked out some logical way of dealing with it? You don’t let yourself feel anything?” my own head tilted in his direction. “I don’t want to let people get close to me, if people get close then they let you down” he justified. “But you don’t let yourself feel! Of course relationships haven’t worked out! How could they?”

distanceYou’re like a baby! No, you’re aware of your emotions you just don’t know how to use them! You’re five! You’re literally a five year old!” I determined, he was silent, a sadness settling over him. “It’s ok, I’m only four myself, all I have is emotions and no logic, I hear everything people aren’t saying and nothing they are, I fed all my emotional needs into my mother and now I don’t know what to do”. We both felt a little fragile at that point. “Can you” he stopped, I knew what he wanted to ask, he paused “I want to ask” I couldn’t say it for him “just, would you” he was struggling “will you” ‘just say it’ I pleaded in my mind “will you share the bed with me tonight” he finally got round to it before adding in haste “not in a sexual way, I mean not like that, just, I, I need to be hugged”. So, like the four and five year olds that we were, we clung to each other as we slept, no sexual chemistry, just two scared children cast adrift in the world.

inner child

The following day was Alaska’s birthday, Blonde had gone off for a day trip with Geo and his family. Alaska had one rule on his birthday, he only did whatever he wanted, there would be no planning, just spur of the moment decisions which resulted in various errands and spending several hours just sitting in a coffee shop. That night Geo and Blonde returned, we surprised Alaska with a birthday cake and settled down for a screening of The Goonies, a film which Blonde, being the 90’s baby she is, had never seen. Geo stayed over, taking my place in the bed next to Blonde “it’s fine, I’ll share with Alaska, he doesn’t hog the bed quite so much” I jokingly dug at Blonde.

goonies

“Do you think they are hooking up?” I asked Alaska as we laid there that night, “I hope so, it would be good for Geo, it’s hard to meet women up here” came the reply. “Yeah, he’s nice, they’d be a good couple”. “Hey, you got everything organised for Seattle yet?” Alaska turned the conversation. “Ughh, well I’ve messaged a few couch surfer hosts about staying and have been getting quotes for a car hire. So it seems, with insurance and stuff, it’ll be a lot easier to just hire a car for the entire time, rather than try and buy one” I relayed.

“Has Blonde sorted out her money yet?” Alaska followed up. “No! She hasn’t had her credit card sent on from Australia as we don’t know where we’re staying yet, so the car will have to go on my card which I’m really not happy about. She hasn’t looked up any accommodation or anything. Actually I was the one who booked all the flights, figured out the entire route, booked all the accommodation so far. The one time she tried to book accommodation in Hawaii she fucked it up and we were just lucky the my friend had to come to the rescue. I’ve had to look up all the car options. I’ve had to lend her money because she didn’t change any of her Australian cash over. Ughhh, I’ve been doing everything, it’s not fair!” I moaned, anger building.

coping

“Well have you told her any of this?” he asked. “I shouldn’t have to! If it was the other way around, I’d be very aware that the other person was doing everything, how can she not?” I sulked back, kicking the sheet with my foot. “But you’re used to having to do everything on your own, you’re used to organising, it’s what you do for a job. She’s never had to do stuff on her own, she’s always had people to do it for her” he readjusted the sheet over our feet.

“Well that’s true, but she thinks she’s all independent and has travelled alone and stuff. You know last summer she spent five months in Europe but she did these organised bus tours where everything is planned for you, plus she stayed with relatives, so she only ever had a two or three days max where she wasn’t with other people, that’s doesn’t make you an experienced traveller. I sound like a dick don’t I? Ughh it’s just annoying when she says how independent she is but she relies on other people. It’s not fair, I don’t have anyone to fall back on, I don’t have anyone, if I don’t organise stuff, it won’t happen” I was sad, I was annoyed at Blonde for having a family to look after her, for how easy her life seemed in comparison. “Well she doesn’t know any of that, you need to have a dialogue with her” Alaska summarised. “But I hate confrontation” I groaned, pulling the sheet over my head.

sheet over head

Alaska worked his way around the kitchen, whipping up hashbrowns “so you just add water?” The hashbrowns just come out of a carton? You don’t have to shred an actual potato? Well that’s weird! America is weird!” I examined the packaging. “Why would you slice up a potato? Who has time for that?” came the response. Blonde appeared at the door “mmmmm” she reviewed the cooking.

“Oh, hey, where did you put my sunglasses?” I asked. “I don’t know, where did you put them?” she replied, sitting down on the island stool next to me. “You, where did you put my sunglasses? You had them?” I questioned back. “No I didn’t? I never had your sunglasses!” she snapped. “Oh my god, yes you did! You took them up stairs for me with my computer the other night, the computer was on top of my suitcase but the glasses were nowhere to be seen. I went through all my stuff when you were out with Geo yesterday but couldn’t find them anywhere”. “I never touched your glasses” she folded her arms, her refusal to even try and remember causing bubbles of irritation to rise in me. “Yes you diddddd! I asked you to take them upstairs and they slipped across the top of the computer. I remember because I was worried about you crushing them in your hand, Alaska, you were there, remember?” I turned it on him, he looked up from the spitting eggs “err, I can’t remember”.

sunglasses

“Well I can go look in my stuff but I’m sure I didn’t have them”. We both went upstairs as I listed the scene in a bid to jog her memory “I bought them downstairs because we were going to sit outside” I insisted “I asked you to take them upstairs because I remembered thinking I didn’t want to stand on them accidentally when I got up to pee. Because I really needed to pee but I didn’t want to interrupt the conversation with Alaska. I remember it all, see, you had them, remember?”. Half an hour later we returned to Alaska, after pulling our room apart but to no sunglass avail, our eggs and hashbrowns plated up and going cold.

“No luck?” he asked. “No!” I picked up my fork. I felt petty but it just seemed so typical, for the previous few weeks she’d been demanding people be careful with her belongs ‘don’t crush my leather jacket’ and ‘I don’t want my suitcase to get marked’ but she seemed to take no care of other peoples stuff. Ughhhh, I was annoyed.

eggs-and-hash-browns

“I know it seems petty but sunglasses never suit me, I’ve a small head, like a little pin head! It’s really hard to find good glasses and those ones weren’t cheap. And, and I got them when I did a road-trip a few years ago with Bridezilla, it was such a fun trip, it’s one of the last times I was really happy before everything went bad. I know they’re just sunglasses but they just, I’m sort of emotionally attached to them and I hate losing stuff, I never lose stuff, well apart from my toothbrush the other day but that doesn’t count” I sounded like an idiot. Blonde pushed her eggs around the plate, grabbing the ketchup aggressively. “Why are you in a mood!” I demanded. “I’m not. I just feel like you’re blaming me!” she snapped back. “Well you’re the one that lost them!” my anger growing. “Right, ok, you two need to talk!” Alaska butted in.

we need to talk

We finished eating and sat down in the living room, Alaska began “this road-trip isn’t going to work unless you two communicate better! You need to listen to each other. Becky, why don’t you explain some of the things you’ve been getting annoyed about?” I didn’t like being talked to like a child, I didn’t need him to get in the middle of this, but perhaps he had a point.

“Ok, well, ok” I turned to Blonde “I don’t feel you were prepared for this trip, you hadn’t sorted out your money or done anything towards the organising. I’ve had to do everything so far and it doesn’t feel very fair”. “That’s not true, I, I sorted out where we were staying at the National Park!” Blonde tried. “No you didn’t! I Googled it, found the number, all you did was call them to make the reservation. On my phone. With my bank card!” I quipped back.

mother hen

“Ok, ok, what Becky is saying, is that she feels a bit like she has to full fill the role of Mother Hen and is taking on more responsibility than she is comfortable with” Alaska pointed out. “I know what you’re saying but all I could think was that I want her to be Mother Hen” Blonde looked sheepish. ‘What the fuck!!!!’ I yelled internally ‘just because I’m older doesn’t mean I have to carry your ass!!’. “Also I didn’t know that you were getting annoyed, you have to tell me this otherwise how can I do anything about it? I’ll start booking accommodation, where do we need it from?” she asked. “Well I’m waiting to hear back on Seattle but after that, I’ve got everything covered until Salt Lake city” I quickly worked out. “Ok, when do we get to Salt Lake?” she responded “ughh, in 10 days time” I finished.

frustrated

Geo was staying over that night in order to drive us to the airport at 3.30am, ready for our 5am flight; I flopped down on Alaska’s bed “I know, I know, I still need to pack, just give me a minute” I dangled my feet off the bed to signal they would soon be moving. “You seem agitated?” he flopped down next to me. “I just really want to find those glasses, I can’t really afford to buy any more and I really don’t want to have to drive without them. And, well I know it’s silly but she hasn’t taken any responsibility, she hasn’t apologised or even admitted she had them, I took every single item out of my bag trying to find them, she just moved her stuff in her case from side to side when we looked. You know, in Hawaii when we had that fight, I apologised but she didn’t. That’s not how apologies work” I went on. Blonde and Geo walked in “what are you two up to?” she asked.

“We’re talking about apologies” Alaska stated. “What about them?” Blonde questioned. Ughh I didn’t want to get into this ‘I just want to pack my stuff and get four hours of sleep before we leave’ I groaned internally. “Bec says that after a fight both people should apologise” Alaska answered. “Why? Why apologise if you didn’t do anything wrong?” came what I deemed to be a dumb response.

sorry

“Because that’s not how fights work, no one has an argument where it’s just one person yelling at the other for no reason. Both parties, say stuff. Apologies work because one person apologies for their part in it and then the other person apologies for what they did!” I demonstrated. “You apologise when you do something wrong but it’s not expected that both side apologise to each other” Alaska and Geo discussed. “In the States when someone fucks up, they apologise for their fuck up. If I start a fight then I apologise for starting the fight because it’s my fault”.

“No, that’s not how it works, there are two sides to an argument, I mean sure if one person is being a dick, yeah but that’s not a fight, a fight takes two people. Sure one might have more to apologise for than the other but both say stuff! It’s just good manners!” I stated. “Ah you Brits!” Alaska joked. Blonde started “I agree with the boys, you don’t expect an apology if you apologise”. I was feeling ganged up on “No! In Hawaii we had that fight, we were both at fault, I apologised at the airport for my part and you said nothing. You didn’t take any responsibility for anything you said or did”. “Yes I did!” she insisted. “No, you didn’t! I said sorry as we walked onto the plane and I find it really hard to apologise and you didn’t say anything, actually you said ‘that’s ok’ but then said nothing, I remember thinking at the time it was rude you hadn’t said anything back!” I was feeling more and more petty with every word that escaped my mouth. “Well you should have said at the time!” said Blonde “yeah, you need to communicate more” Alaska chimed in. “I’m going to go pack” I rose to leave.

anger

An hour later, Blonde and I had forced all our belongings and problems into various cases, zipping them shut, not to be opened again until Seattle, I returned downstairs to find a smug Alaska, pleased with himself for instigating Blonde and I discussing our problems. “What’s the matter?” he asked. I explained that I hadn’t felt very supported and that I didn’t appreciate him forcing a conversation that hadn’t been needed at that moment.

Because he was such a five year old, he didn’t understand why I was annoyed. I tried to explain that I needed him to create a safe environment for me to be honest with him, that I needed him to be patient and caring even if I sounded irrational. I was trying to highlight it as an example so he could use it in the future. I told him that even if my logic for feeling upset seemed odd to him, a girl needs to hear the guy feed it back so that she knows he was listening, apologise for making her feel that way if appropriate and appreciate her honesty.

over thinking

Of course, the whole concept seemed utterly stupid to him and I had to agree that when you spell it out, it is stupid but that’s irrelevant because sometimes that’s just how a girl needs to be communicated with. She doesn’t want advice for her problems, she just wants to be listened to and supported. He fought this logic because he didn’t understand it, frustration built because it went against everything he had taught himself over the years in how to act in such situations. He explained that he thought he was doing the right thing when he asked if a girl was ok? She’d answered that she was ‘fine’ he would walk away so she would have the space to sort it out instead of listening, which I pointed out would only make a girl more angry.

I again brought up the example of me being ‘tired’ and how Alaska would respond to that saying ‘ok, let’s go to sleep then’. I told him that all he was hearing was the simple thing and the obvious thing to fix, not the reason why I/the girl would be upset. I explained how that solution would play out, him going to sleep and her not sleeping and becoming increasingly upset. Alaska struggled to understand, admitting that was exactly how things had played out in the past.

fighting

He started to question himself, closing in, his body curled into itself, self protecting. He was getting angry “don’t lash out” I asked, he curled tighter “what if I never get it? People are always going to leave aren’t they? I’m worthless…” he was despairing at himself. “Shut up, of course  you’re good enough! Say ‘I am worth everything’ it will make you feel better!”. He couldn’t say it, as much as I tried to get him to say it he couldn’t, somehow I was touching a raw nerve, in the dark of the room, wrapped up in sheets of the bed, I’d stripped him bare. Finally, through tears, he admitted that perhaps, after all, he was worth something, he was good enough, but still unable to say he was worth everything.

dumb adult

With a break through achieved I was about to settle down for some much needed sleep when Alaska spun me off my side and over onto my back; looking down on me, he leaned in and planted a kiss on my lips. “Piss off! Don’t muddy the waters. You know we don’t have that. I fed him his own words back, you said you’re not attracted to me. At all! That we don’t have that piece of the jigsaw remember! Don’t force something that isn’t there!” I pushed him off me.

We hugged instead, I could feel his vulnerability. “You’re angry” I announced, knowing it was nothing to do with the kiss but entirely with his own internal battle about recognising any value in himself. “If that’s how you feel, then feel it, at least it’s an emotion. Thrash out if you need to, attack me, I can handle it” I said, stupidly thinking I was strong enough to take on his emotional confusion. “Honestly, I would rather fuck, than lash out at you” he stated angrily. “Ha, no you don’t. You just think we’re close because we’ve shared some of our innermost feelings and you think if we had sex it would make us even closer. But it wouldn’t, it would make things all kinds of awkward and weird between us. You only want to fuck right now because you want to feel something other than the pain in your chest that I exposed!” I spoke into the dark.

rain dance

“You don’t find me physically attractive remember, you’ve never said one thing along the lines of how I look” I added. “I do think you’re attractive, I’m attracted to your spark, your inner beauty, to how deep you are, to what makes you, you” he said. “Yeah, I know that, that’s why we’re friends, we like the people we are inside but that’s not enough for anything more than friendship, you’re not sexually attracted to me and as vain as it sounds, I’m still a girl who’s grown up in western society where you’re told that all that really matters is how you look on the outside. I know that shouldn’t be important but I still want to be with someone who finds me physically attractive, inside and out!” it seemed silly once said but it felt important to me.

“Do you have any pictures of when you were thinner?” he asked. “Well yeah, of course, they’re on Facebook but I’m not going to show you right now just to justify something to you!” I stated. He laughed at me calling him out “no I was going to lie and say you looked the same” he returned. “Well that’s not helpful!” I erupted, beginning to feel self-conscious. “No true. If I’m honest, yeah, I find you attractive, even though you’re not my normal type. I usually go for girls who are petite and blonde with a really nice bum, which you do not have any of those attributes, the blonde hair or a perfect ass. Also your teeth aren’t perfectly straight either, but those don’t matter since it’s your mind that I’m attracted to and value. You’re right I’m not attracted to you at all” he concluded in a sarcastic and cutting way.

fat ass

It cut me. I was heavier than I was comfortable with but I wasn’t exactly overweight and yeah, sure, my ass wasn’t going to win any awards, it was a pancake ass, flat and spread. I have wide hips, the ass has to stretch to reach them and and my waist is narrow and legs long and all together, well it only all adds to the illusion of a rather wide butt; I knew this, I was fully aware of it but I did not need some jerk from Alaska with mummy issue pointing it out. It’s one thing knowing you’re not someone’s perfect figure choice, it’s another thing having it highlighted to you at 2am before at 5am flight.

I laid there bruised, feeling fat, ugly and hurt. He tried to hug me “Great, now I’ve done something wrong but I don’t know what I did or how to fix it?” he asked. I wanted to shrug him off, to make him pay, beg for my forgiveness, to curl up into a ball and cry. None of this had worked with my ex and he’d been experienced in relationships, this Alaskan, well he was a five year old with a barbed wire heart, throwing toys and missiles out, trying to protect himself, he would need it all explained to him.

throwing toys

I rolled over, I didn’t want to talk to him but I tried. “You were upset because I got close and made you question how you handled things. You were frustrated because things I said went against what you’ve taught yourself. You did what you always do when someone gets close. You attack. You throw weapons at them. You read people and worse, you manipulate them. You got me to tell you my insecurities and then you threw them back at me. That’s cruel! It’s selfish! I was trying to help you and you attacked me! You made me feel broken and I’m tired of being broken! It’s not fair, you shouldn’t do that to people just because you can!” I shared.

“I know, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to do. I want to feel something but I just have a void” he was trying to turn it back on himself but I was mad. “No you don’t!” I snapped back “You feel guilt and sadness right now yes? Well those are emotions and all emotions come from the heart! You wrap yours up with words in your head but the core feelings, that’s your heart! Sometimes you feel great and sometimes you feel like this! It’s all in your heart!” my patience had run out, I was angry.

let me sleep

“I just want to love and be loved” he mumbled.

“You want love? This is love! It’s a deep connection with someone and wanting to be with them all day, it’s reaching out and touching them, it’s feeling warmth for them, it’s putting their needs above yours. But it’s also attacking them in arguments, taking swipes, hurting them with words in the depth of night because you feel so deeply. This is love, it’s high and low, that’s how it works. Love is beauty and pain. This is it! It’s fucking hard and painful, that’s how it is!” I yelled as if I knew anything about what I was saying.

“Ughhh what is it you want from me!” I requested. “I want your love” he whispered. “No you don’t,  you just want someone to love you, it’s nothing to do with me, you just want to connect with someone! I am not strong enough for you, you’d destroy me. I don’t know how, you need to let people in, stop throwing toys at them!” I explained as best I could.

ass

“Blonde knocked on the door “ready to go?”. We left for the airport, the lack of sleep fuzzing my head, my phone beeped “I love you” Alaska’s text. I relayed the conversation to Blonde as we stood in line for security, a rather rotund lady called us forward “is it too soon for bum jokes?” Blonde asked. “It will always be too soon for bum jokes!” I replied with a smile.

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The pitfalls of hitch-hiking, unwanted spirit animals and not falling in love

The rim of one of the back tyres was bent, causing the whole car to shake and rattle. “How did you get this crack?” I asked from the from seat, tracing my finger in the air along the broken glass; it’s crack racing across the entire front screen “the cold, everyone has cracked screens up here, a rock chipped it and the ice did the rest” he explained. “Isn’t it rather dangerous to drive with a damaged screen?” I continued, recalling advice my mother told me once, when my own car suffered a large chip “if a rock flies up and the whole screen shatters and you can’t see, stay calm, punch! Punch a hole right through the window! Then pull over when you can see and await help” she’d instructed. “No point, it’ll only crack again come winter” Alaska decided, his eyes on the road ahead as we dipped over the edge of a hill, shaking our way down into the wilderness below.

shattered glass

We were driving north; Blonde and I off to a national park for the night, Alaska providing the lift whilst on his way to some errand he needed to attend up in Fairbanks. The mountains loomed ahead; giant, sugar covered pyramids of winter’s blue; gradually falling into focus as we inched closer.  Rocky peaks whizzed past in the distance, complemented by seas of pine trees, boastful in their new greens of spring. The landscape rose and fell, cut apart from melted glaciers and aggressive rivers. We were in the heart of nature, in all her fierce and wild ways; interrupted only by the occasional lonely car, speeding to some civilization or other. Alaska was such a contract to Hawaii; Hawaii with all her romantic honeymoon ideals couldn’t compete with the rawness Alaska commanded over the landscape.

alaska drive

On the bend of an empty road Alaska pulled over “hey, you need a ride?” he leant across me, shouting out the window to a bearded man holding a small dog under one arm. “What are you doing?!” I hissed, mildly alarmed by the turn of events. “What?” he looked at my face surprised “he could be a serial killer!” I stated the obvious as the man made his way around to the spare seat, Alaska only laughed. Blonde, at first clutching her bag to her chest and scooting as close to the window as she could get in the back seat, quickly changed her mind when she saw the dog and proceeded to pet it for the next 30 minutes of the journey. “Car was in the shop and I needed to get to work” the man explained “thanks for the lift” he called with a wave as we dropped him off in the next town.

dog ride

“Do you just pick up people all the time? Isn’t it dangerous?” I questioned. “Everyone hitch-hikes up here, it’s only dangerous in the lower 48” he stated as though it went without saying. “In fact it’s actually illegal not to pick up someone if it’s below freezing” he went on. “Really?” called Blonde from the back seat, leaning between the front two seats, straining to hear over the rumble of the back tyre. “Oh yeah, people would die out there!” he justified, “but what if they’re murderers and they want your blood!” I interjected, “what kind of mass murder would want to hang about in 0º Fahrenheit, he’d probably die himself before he even got picked up” laughed Alaska. I thought for a second “well I guess, or his fingers would be too frozen to be able to hold a weapon” I decided. “Maybe that’s what they want you to think! But really they have secret hand warmers and you’re next!” Blonde offered, pointing a finger at Alaska.

The hours slowly passed, but the road kept rolling. “I’m boredddddd” I announced to the car who only vibrated loudly in response. “Well hey, let’s play a game” suggested Alaska. We sat silent for a second trying to think of something to play, “I spy?” I proposed “actually no, that’s rubbish, we can do better!” we fell quiet again. “Oh, what’s your spirit animal?” Alaska burst with enthusiasm before going on to explain “this guy I met travelling told me about it; it’s where other people decide which animal you are most like and then that animal is your spirit animal”.

spirit animals

“Ok, let’s do you first” I chirped up. “No, I’m a meerkat, that’s what this guy decided. We’ll do you first” he leaned over his shoulder, smiling at Blonde. I thought for a second “is she a reindeer?” I asked. “No, my head would hurt from the antlers, I’d be poking my head over your shoulders all the time saying ‘my head hurts‘ in a moose like way” she delivered her impression of the moose in a low, slow, rather depressed voice, I laughed, repeating the line back to her “my head hurts”.

“Hmm let’s see, well you’re from Australia so something that likes the heat” Alaska chimed in “maybe a lizard” he tried. “A lizard!” Blonde moaned. “No, she doesn’t sit around all day and scurry at the first sign of trouble” I supported. “Ok, hmmm” Alaska puckered his face, a deep crease forming between his eyebrows as he racked his mind for a creature “oh, I’ve got it, a horny toad!” Alaska exclaimed, delighted at having found what he believed to be a suitable animal. “I am not a toad!” Blonde shouted over a particularly loud clatter from the car hitting a pothole. “But they like to sunbath and the heat” Alaska tried to justify he decision. “I like water too! I need to be near the water!” Blonde tried. “Ok, so an animal who likes the heat but also likes the water” I listed the attributes so we were all on the same page.

hippos

“Hey, a hippo!” Alaska declared to my grimace at his lack of tact of how such a spirit animal would be taken. Had Blonde known Alaska better she might have delivered a quick whack to the back of his head however in an effort to remain on good terms with our host and driver, she re-framed and was about to explain exactly why she was in fact not anything like a hippo when Alaska continued.

“Wait, let me explain” he laughed, having picked up on the in-draw of breath in the car. ” You see” he began “hippos are very calm, patient animals who love nothing more than spending their hot summer days cooling off in the water however they are very protective of those close to them and will charge and attack anyone who threatens their friends or family. More Hippos kill people than alligators” he offered the fact as an after though, feeling it added to his explanation. Alaska’s justification was enough to placate Blonde; she chewed it over for a moment “I see myself as more of a mustang” she decided “running wild and free”. “No, you’re a hippo” determined Alaska, “yep, I agree” I jumped on the bandwagon. “Fine, I guess I’ll take it, although I am more of a mustang! Let’s do Becky” Blonde responded.

wolf

Rather too quickly for my liking it was resolved that I was an impala. “What’s an impala?” I asked confused. “It’s like a giselle” explained Blonde. “What! That’s rubbish! All they do is stand around eating grass!” I erupted. “no, you’re a giselle, because they get very bouncy” Alaska proposed, his argument making no sense to me. “No! I’m fierce, I wouldn’t be waiting around to get eaten by a lion!” I fought back. “I’m fierce, I’m fierce” sang Blonde from the back seat “ha see, an impala!” Alaska laughed along. “I’m fierce! I’m a wolf!” I tried to conclude. “There, there impala” Alaska patted my head patronizingly. “I’m fierce! I’m going to howl at the moon and do all wolf like things! You’ll see!” I folded my arms and set my face to a determined stare, “ok impala” Blonde called over my shoulder.

Having failed at convincing both my comrades that I was clearly more bad ass, wolf than rubbish fawn thing; conversations turned to discussing our studies. Blonde held a degree in biology and chemistry stuff, Alaska had learnt communication and I’d, well technically I read arts and culture however when I say ‘read’ I actually mean rushing to the library at 9.55pm before it closed at 10, checking out all the books on the course list that were still available on the library shelves, followed by a midnight dash to a supermarket to stock up on red bull, caffeine tablets and copious amounts of sugar.

poorly studying

By 5pm a film would have been watched to help ‘prepare my mind for study’, my room was spotless, pens lined up in colour order, CD’s alphabetised and finally I’d be ready to write my essay; only by then I’d be far too tired and need a nap. The essay would inevitably get written in sheer panic as soon as I awoke, the unopened books listed as references followed by a last minute dash to the university, where I’d post the poorly completed document underneath the departments locked door (after arriving five minutes late, past the deadline) and hope for the best.

“Have you heard of that love experiment?” I asked. “Ooh we should play that” Blonde projected. “What experiment?” Alaska asked confused. I went on to explain that a group of scientific researchers had bought two subjects into a lab who didn’t know each other and gave them a set of questions which got gradually more intense. After the questions were finished they were asked to stare into each others eyes for a while and “boom, they got married and lived happily ever after” I finished. “That sounds strange, who conducted this study and when?” Alaska questioned. “Well I don’t know, some university on the East Coast I think, a few years ago. Have you not heard of it? The story went viral a few months ago, all these journalists tried it out and fell in love too! Actually I only read one article but she said her and some bloke hooked up after which is sort of the same thing. Either way, the questions are quite interesting”. “Ok, well I’m curious, let’s hear them then?” Alaska requested. “Ok, but I don’t want either of you pair falling in love with me, got it?” I joked.

alaska mountains

It started easily enough “when did you last sing to yourself?” and “would you like to be famous?” but before we knew it, we were discussing “which member of your family’s death would be the most traumatic?” and “describe your relationship with your mother” – that car suddenly got real intense! With three people answering each question, those last few hours in the car flew by; all feeling rather fragile by the time we pulled into the local town where Alaska would be dropping us off before continuing on further north, we had one last question to go “describe a problem you are currently experiencing and ask how the other person would handle it”.

Blonde asked about her decision to continue applying to medical school despite having failed the entry example twice and being unsure whether it was really the career she wanted. They turned it on me “I’m good, we can skip me” I attempted to deflect to no avail “fine, umm well” I racked my brains ‘a problem, a problem, well the frustrations felt in Hawaii about Blonde and my fear we might not survive the trip? Nah, probably not the best time to go into that right now. Hmmm, well, come on, think of a problem, hmmmm’ I pondered as the engine ran over in the parking lot. “Oh, well I guess after everything, I have a bit of a fear of making deep connections with people but that’s normal right? So yeah errr” I offered for lack of anything better to say. Due to time constraints it was concluded I need to not think about it too much, take time and be more open ‘ah, such easy things on paper, but try doing them when everything makes you want to run far, far away!‘ I silently replied. “Right, your turn Alaska!” I insisted before we could continue with me any longer.

alaskan wilderness

He thought for awhile, clearly struggling as much as I had “ok, well, a few weeks ago my friend hooked me up with this one chick and err, we fooled around a couple of times but she started acting weird. I asked her what the deal was and she said ‘nothing‘. My friend was acting odd for like, for a week and there were other things but it all capsized with him because at the end of a shitty week he had slept with the girl. I confronted him about it and then he fessed up to it, and he was honest. But the girl didn’t say anything when I asked her. I called her out on it. So now she keeps asking for forgiveness and wants to be friends but I explained to her that trust is really important to me and that I don’t want to be friends with her” he rationalised.

“Wait, what happened with your mate? Did you forgive him?” Blonde enquired. “Yeah?” I followed. “Well, we didn’t talk for a couple of days then I said to him ‘here, buy me a beer and we’ll be all good’ so he did and we’re fine now” he said. “What!” Blonde and I declared at the same time “but what he did was worse than what she did, he’s your mate!” I tried. “Nah, he knows how it is, he didn’t lie to me and came straight out with it when I confronted him. It’s her who I’ve the problem with, she doesn’t deserve my forgiveness but keeps asking for it” Alaska continued to our exasperated, open mouthed faces. With no time to dig any deeper we climbed out the car and went to find some dinner.

Denali

“Umm, it turns out the return pick up bus doesn’t go from here but from the national park entrance which is three miles that way!” I pointed down the highway. We were standing in the national park village which consisted of one hotel, one caravan park and an array of eateries and tourist shops but precisely no taxi’s or public transport of any kind to speak of. “What time is it? There has to be a bus that goes through town?” Blonde suggested. We quickly established that once again we had been fooled by the excessive amount of daylight in Alaska and it was in fact getting pretty late into the evening so the chances of catching a scheduled bus were practically zero. “We could walk?” Blonde offered, “the hostel is eight miles away, the pick up bus is three miles away but that leaves in 15 minutes and there is no way we will make it there in time. You know what we have to do don’t you?” I relayed.

As we crossed the road a man in a bright yellow jacked started waving frantically as though we were long lost friends “where you heading? Where you heading?” he asked, waving his hand, thumb turned up, manically at the passing truck who pretended to not see and continued driving on. “Just down the road, we’re staying at the hostel” Blonde explained. At the sound of our accents his enthusiasm increased, in a nervous jitter he bubbled “where you from? Where you from?”. Having explained our origins he continued “hey, hey, maybe I’ll come stay at the hostel and we can smoke it up all night” I had the distinct impression he wasn’t talking about normal tobacco; Blonde flashed me a concerned look “err, actually we’re really tired so just going to head to bed” I informed the man who looked as though we’d offended his hospitality. “Well you can’t stand on my corner, you’ll both get picked up before me. You have to go. Go!” with all friendliness lost we moved further down the road.

hitch hiking

A suitable distance down, we prepared to catch a lift “what do I do?” Blonde asked, “well just stick your thumb out and smile I guess” she did as instructed before turning “I feel silly, I’m not good at this, you do it!” I stepped up to the edge of the road, jumped on the spot and waved my pointed thumb up and down. After five minutes we were growing bored “shall we just walk, how long can eight miles take?” I proposed. “Let’s give it five more and see how we go?” Blonde returned.

A state trooper spun past, screeched to a halt, turned the car around and pulled up alongside with a less than amused face “what do you ladies think you are doing!”. “You’re not going to arrest us are you?” Blonde panicked. “Why are you hitch-hiking? Don’t you know that’s incredibly dangerous!” the trooper began. We handed over ID’s and listened to a description of ourselves called into the main dispatch before the trooper eventually offered us a lift back to the hostel. Most of that lift was spent being lectured on the perils of hitch-hiking before he enquired as to where we were planning to stay on our road-trip and how we were managing to finance it.

state trooper

“Oh we’re couch surfing” Blonde interjected. The trooper was clearly confused by this term, so I continued “it’s where you stay with strangers off the internet” perhaps I didn’t explain it very well for this information led to a second lecture on how he would never let his 20 something year old daughter behave like this and “what do your parents think about all this!”. He dropped us off with promises that we wouldn’t hitch-hike again and that we would try to be more careful in future.

The following afternoon, one national park down, Alaska picked us up for the return journey south. “How was the hostel?” he beamed from underneath his winter hat. Blonde laughed, “Awful!” I declared “first of all I got eaten by all the mosquitoes, then when we went to bed, we just about fell asleep when these two lads arrived and banged about for half an hour. Finally everyone settled down and then this old dude started snoring, it was like a steam train rolling through the cabin” I complained.

unable to sleep

“Yeah, and I got woken up because someone was kicking the bed” Blonde added. “I couldn’t help it, it was so loud, I was trying to wake him up so he’d stop snoring long enough so I could fall asleep” I finished. “Sounds like you guys had fun, I had a great night sleep in my tent” Alaska retorted with a smile. We updated him on our state trooper troubles and opinions of Denali national park before I suddenly realised “aghhhh, I was so tired this morning I left my electric tooth brush in the bathroom and my hoodie in the cafe! See what lack of sleep does to me, do you see!!!” I moaned. “There, there impala” came the reply with yet another pat, this time administered to my knee. “So how are we going to keep ourselves entertained for the return journey” I smiled, “oh no! no questions! We’re playing ‘I spy’ if anything! Actually, no talking!” instructed Alaska with a smirk.

Impala

That night, all exhausted but with a bet to be won, we headed to a bar, having first driven around for an hour trying to find somewhere to eat before realising it was 11pm and cursing the eternal day. What with it being the weekend after Memorial day, plus an unusually warm weekend sending the locals off camping and well, our general lack of appeal, Blonde and I were successfully un-hit-on; proving our point that just because Alaska has an alarmingly high proportion of men does not mean every girl gets chatted up by just walking into a bar. The losers took their lost bet shots gracefully with grimaced smiles as the potent liquor slid down their throats and burned their bellies.

A few moments post shots and much to the lads utter annoyance, Blonde and I had a round of drinks bought for us by a very friendly gentleman who was pleased to hear our foreign accents. With the alcohol fulling the evening and Blonde and I having only two days left before we headed to Seattle, it was decided a second, shorter road trip would be undertaken to Homer the following day, further south of the state.

Blonde, unused to drinking began to fall asleep in the bar and demanded to be hugged, signalling the time to leave. Having tucked her up in bed, I returned downstairs for a quick night cap drink with Alaska; my own lack of sleep put aside with the momentary plaster of sugar and alcohol.

bar

We each laid on the sofa, my legs draped over his so we could both fit. Conversation touched on the questions to fall in love from the drive, skimming any thing too detailed “we seem to get each other” one of us announced, “yeah, I mean, I know what you’re saying even if you’re not exactly saying it” replied the other. “It’s not in a fancying way though, just, well, I would be friends with you. As in I would choose you as a friend, does that make sense?” I said. “Oh yeah, totally, I’m not attracted to you” he paused “at all, I’m not attracted to you at all!”.

Alright, no need to drill it home there’ I chewed internally. “Ha, yeah, you’re not my type” I said just in case he thought I was attracted to him. He looked at me inquisitorially “So what is your type?” he followed up. “Ah, I like really tall guys, you know, dark hair, blue eyes, mmmm blue eyes, chiselled jaws, mmmm, rugby players, big shoulders, that kind” I listed off in a dreamy way for effect, he laughed.

As the sun set and rose again (far too quickly than I would have thought normal), we talked, I confided in him my frustrations about Blonde “well yeah, I can see why you would get annoyed, the problem is, she is completely unaware because you two don’t have a dialogue, you need to tell her all this” he decided. “How do you do that without sounding like a moaning cow?” I asked. Finally, with the sun fully ablaze and my tiredness taking over, I crawled into bed next to Blonde who’d rolled herself up in all the covers, her eye mask pulled low and a t-shirt overhead to keep out the light.

Far too few hours later we picked up Geo and headed to a restaurant where the mature people that we are, swiftly picked up the colouring crayons and proceeded upon decorating the available print outs; I’m pleased to say I managed to stay inside the lines – except for that one slip, the red crayon just got the better of me. With far too much food ordered we had it packed up with the plan to eat whilst camping in Homer. A plan that was disastrously executed when we drove away from the restaurant with the boxes of food still sitting on top of the roof of the car, only to see them flying off into the car park behind us with a crash, much to the amusement of the other punters.

colouring

We stopped to see a moose drink from a river. We stopped to catch natural spring water trickling down a cliff face “it’s good luck to lick it off the wall” Geo told me and then proceeded to laugh at my foolishness as my tongue tasted the slime of the rock. We stopped for sweet and to take pictures of the scenery. We got bored. And then, at last, with one more turn around of the mountain road, we saw Homer.

Homer, a small fishing town, located 5 hours south of Anchorage known locally as ‘a quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem’; what made it so special though was it’s surroundings, almost entirely ringed in mountains. Across the still bay rose these dusty, pink giants. The snow capped peaks sparkled in the evening blue of the sky, gold glowed behind their borders; to me, it felt as though they’d just risen out of the ocean, a painted backdrop to some long forgotten fairytale.

homer

“We’re going to the most famous bar in Alaska” I’d been told, well one doesn’t want to appear under dressed so I’d prepared myself accordingly, in a red dress and stiletto boots. Before the bar could be visited, a tent needed to be erected; I feel I managed quite well in three inch heels! “You do realise people don’t really dress up here?” it was pointed out. “I’m cold, can I just go like this?” Blonde asked, bundled up in layers of fleece and lady bug pyjama pants. As we walked in the bar, every inch of the walls covered in dollar bills, the regulars looked us up and down, apparently it was perfectly normal to wear your night gear to a bar, heels however…well, let’s just say I received many an odd look that night.

With six of us in the tent (the two additions arriving during the set up of the tent) I’d insisted on sleeping in the middle. My logic had been, that with a decent amount of beer warming my stomach, layer upon layer of thick clothes, two sleeping bags and the warmth of four boys and one girl lining the side of me, there was no chance I’d get cold.

cold

“I’m c c c c c coldddddd” I whispered through chattering teeth, my bones stiff and locked. Alaska lifted an arm, letting me flop closer in my sleeping bags, like a freshly caught fish until I got to the warmth of body. “I’m nev nverrrr c c c c campingggg  again n n n n”.

“I’m so sad to be leaving” I confided to Blonde a few hours later, once I’d warmed up as we waited around in a gas station for the boys to fill up the car. “Me too, maybe we can change our flights and stay a few more days?” Blonde suggested.

With time closing in on us, Alaska rushed us to the airport “we may as well ask how much it is to change flights” Blonde stated. “So we can’t just delay them a few days then?” we realised at the information desk, “never mind, we tried, probably for the best, the schedule is pretty tight” we rationalised as we walked to the check in desk.

“Sorry girls, check in for bags has just closed, you won’t be able to get on this flight?” came the snarly voice of the steward. “But we are literally two minutes late because we were at that desk. Right over there. Talking to your colleague!” we tried to explain to no luck. “Oh well, looks like we’re staying in Alaska a few more days then” we smiled to each other until the steward interrupted us “if you’re planning on booking another flight out this week, it’ll cost you over $600” she snarled.

plane leaving

Alaska was still waiting in the car outside just in case anything went wrong, we climbed back into our seats “we’re staying!” we announced, I’m not sure how pleased he was about this.