After 108 mystical days, my service is now complete as the Innkeeper of Alaska. It has at times been frustrating, transcendent, boring, and thrilling. It was uniformly cold. A great portion of my time as the Innkeeper was spent in hiding, reclusively retreating to my hermitage to mutter expletives about the guests under my breath. The rest of my time was spent at the whim of whomever was passing through, enjoying the company of strangers from distant lands. Usually this land was China. Did you guys know they sometimes have a cup of tea just for smelling? Ludicrous.
On my last night at The Lodge, The Owner, her daughters, The Handyman, and Rocky, this dude who lives downstairs threw me a very small goodbye party. By this I mean, they bought a box of wine and we drank it while recollecting some of the highlights of the year. As the highlights from the year flowed amicably, a small cavalry of memories were being formed in real time at the party. Highlights included being praised on my ability to survive the winter, cutting off The Owner after she got too racist, and initiating therapy between mother and daughter under the guise of comedy. All in all, it can be described in no other way than “a win”. Highlights below:
End of Innkeeping
Roll Credits/Special Thanks
If there was a film adaptation to this life experience (and there undoubtedly SHOULD be a film adaptation to this), the credits would now be rolling over my face as I gaze out, one last time, over the birches. I will now credit the major players, in no particular order. I have said goodbye to Alaska. The spring has begun to siphon off the cold, and of course, when things get livable and comfortable, that’s my cue to exit, apparently. I will now thank the major players from my pilgrimage into the coldest parts of a lovable hell.
Thank you for telling me about the frankly garbage working conditions on Etihad Airlines. I’ll try to avoid flying with them in the future.
Dear Michael Jackson,
Thank you for booking a room at the lodge and then showing up in the middle of the night and never coming out of your room in the entire three days you stayed, leading me to seriously consider if maybe you were the actual Michael Jackson. I’m glad that I bumped into you JUST as you were leaving at 4:00 on the last morning where you proved to be a silky-voiced attractive black dude, further arousing suspicion that MJ indeed lives on.
Dear Wu Ting and your friend who’s name I forget,
Thank you for teaching me about the realities of being deaf. I’d never met two deaf guys before, much less two deaf guys from Japan who spoke almost no English. I hope my clumsy attempts at sign-language were not too shameful. Also, sorry about not warning you of the possibility of getting locked out on your balcony. I’m glad I had given you my cellphone number and you were able to text me that you were both locked out in the cold. I’ll never forget the house we spent at 2:00 AM trying to get your door off the hinges so you could get back in, in total silence.
Hope you’re settled in back in Shanghai now. It was a pleasure to meet you and your husband even though he spoke little to no English and kind of stayed in the shadows the whole time. Thank you for sharing the origin of your English name, which you chose because you “like Holidays”. It’s a great story, and I’ll never forget your nightly elaborate feasts with king crab, lobster, and oysters. It made everyone else appear to be living in abject poverty by comparison. Also, sorry about that time when The Owner of the lodge asked if you if you were very rich.
Hi Adam and Daniel,
Thanks for visiting! I’m sure you guys are back in Beijing now. Thanks so much for giving me my Chinese name, and for letting me sip 50 year old tea. It was pretty good, I guess. I mean, it wasn’t that good, really.
Adam, I hope you get back into broadcasting to be a children’s show host again, and Daniel, I looked up that sweater you were wearing on google because I wanted to buy one, but I don’t actually have $1,500.00 to spare, so maybe you could just send me yours? Anyway, thanks again.
Hi Judy and Keith,
Hope you are settled back into your tiny house in Silicon Valley. It was really refreshing to meet my spiritual Guru, Keith. I’ll always remember how he wandered over to my cabin and we talked about the nature of life and finding one’s direction. It felt very significant, so you can imagine my fear, Judy, when you explained the next morning that Keith had had a seizure and could not speak or move.
I didn’t admit it at the time, but when you bought me that coffee at the coffee shop, I’d already had like two cups and jesus, I was so over-caffeinated at that point. I don’t even remember what I said. I was more coffee than man. You guys were really awesome.
Are you guys REALLY from Easter Island? Sorry I didn’t know where it was, really, and sorry if I asked a lot of stupid questions.
I didn’t think I’d meet anyone from Peru who shared my affinity for both Zelda games and Lord of The Rings. Sorry, I was pretty tired by the time you came to the lodge. Normally I’m more conversational.
Thank you for owning the lodge and for inviting me to come work at it. When I first arrived, you had a spiral notebook crammed full of illegible booking notes, confusing and smeared grids, and hieroglyphic and conflicting symbols. I’m proud to say that by the time I left, I somehow became fluent in crazy-person. Thank you for telling me, every morning, whether I wanted to hear it or not (and often even after I explicitly asked if we could not talk about it, or anything) about all the melancholic drama of Fairbanks. Thank you for including me in your family’s snapchat, even though, again, I explicitly asked not to be included.
Also, remember that time when I made all that food and I said “please don’t eat this”, and then you texted me that night saying “oops, I ate it all!”. That was the most annoying thing ever.
But seriously, thank you for putting up with me being moody at times and for generally dealing with a person going through a giant life-change and who was probably annoyingly preoccupied with his chakras and probably more disdainful than he meant to be when you brought up your faith.
Lastly, remember when you called Kombucha “Kombatchu”? That was pretty funny. Thanks for everything, and take care.
Just so you know, it was very strange that you demanded that we find away to seal up the 1/2 inch of visibility through the door to your balcony from the outside. I tried to explain that no one else has access to your balcony, but you seem pretty convicted that it was “scary” that someone could see in. But seriously, no one else is on the balcony. Come on, man.
Dear Pete (The Handyman),
Well I survived. Don’t smoke weed in the lodge, dude. It stinks up the whole place.
Dear Pete, (The former Alaskan who occasionally commented on this blog)
Thanks for reading! It made me vaguely anxious to know a real-live Alaskan was reading any of this stuff. It’s like having a chef show up at your house when you’ve just made rice and beans.
Hi Coffee Shop Friend,
Remember that time when I first went into your coffee shop and you sold me a coffee and then asked if I wanted any psychedelics? I was flattered that you felt comfortable enough with me in that short a time to go ahead and try and sell me drugs, but let’s be real, it might not be the best business practice to do that regularly with customers. Or maybe it is, I guess I really don’t know. Anyway, good job on your beard and take it easy.
Dear guy outside the Chainsaw shop,
You might not remember me. One time I was walking into Rod’s Saw shop to get a blade sharpener and you were standing out front. You asked me if I had seen any “bugaboos”. When I asked you what that meant, you just cryptically told me that bugaboos were things in boxes that all the kids had, and they were all over the place. What were you talking about? Are you thinking of Pokemon? The whole thing really kind of stuck with me. Please know that your words have impacts, and asking strangers very obtuse questions can send them spiraling into confusion fairly quickly.
Dear Wang Tianxi,
I hope you’re doing well back in Taiwan. Just so you know, it was only after you and your family left that I realized you’re not legally allowed to take pictures of Eilson Airforce base. I feel a little responsible since I drove you all the way out there and then said “Yes, go ahead, take picture; why not?”. But apparently you’re not supposed to do that, and also, the base was so far away, why would you even want those photos? Did you share them with a government body? Please tell me if you did, because I really don’t want to get caught up in any kind of international espionage, unless you can guarantee that I won’t die, and I’ll end up getting to do some really cool spy-stuff and then I’ll end up looking like a hero, and maybe write a book about it later. Anyway, probably you should just go ahead and
Thanks to anyone who read any portion of this experience.