Back in November, Alan and I went to the white mountains together. We’d been broken up about a week by then. We shot two caribou, gutted them in the field, then brought them back to my place and spent the next week doing meat chores together. We filled bag after bag with roasts and steaks and chunks and vacuum sealed and froze them all. The way things work out, sometimes there aren’t enough chunks to fill a bag to capacity, so we ended up with one bag labeled “caribou chunks, single serving” and that bag ended up in my freezer.
Every time I look at it I come a little unglued.
Breaking up looks so different every time it happens. In this case, it’s meant not much has changed except the invisible stuff. The feelings, the plans, the intimacy. We still talk often and do things together (or we did, before I moved to Huslia). My unfreezable stuff is still stashed at his house, and he still plans on leaving his dog with me for the summer when he goes to Kodiak. “It’s amicable” I can say if I want to, “we’re still friends.”
And all that is true. Only Alan’s happier now, and I’m not. Breaking up was my idea, and it was the right choice, but I started the conversation because I suspected his feelings for me had changed and I didn’t think he had the nerve, and I guess I was right. Sucks not to be wanted. And it just keeps on sucking.
I woke up in the middle of last night with the dog licking tears off my cheeks. I can’t remember the dream, but I still feel desolate in that familiar way this morning. It’s not a real mystery.
I’m smart enough to know that it’s not really Alan making me feel that way. It’s me, it’s where I’m at. I’m ready to find a long-long-term partnership, and losing a serious relationship just as I’ve come to that realization adds sizzle to the sting. To add a little salt, I’m here in Huslia, population 300, so there isn’t exactly a queue of eligible fellas lined up around my block. They’re scarce even in population centers, to be fair: I don’t go for the kind of men who like population centers.
Last night after dinner, Silna’s ears perked up and she went to the door, listening. I turned off my music and went to the window. Shrieks and giggles, whoops and hollers: right outside, a group of kids in winter gear were playing on the school playground. I opened the door and Silna charged over, tail helicoptering wildly. She wasn’t so sure about the kids on the first cookie night of the year, but when they came over again this Thursday, she couldn’t get enough: she played tag and soccer with them, and they gave her treats and tummy-rubs and played chase and keep-away: she was in Silna heaven, and for an hour after they left she crooned and threw her soccer ball at me relentlessly, trying to get me to be half as much fun as they were. Last night, I watched from the doorway as she leaped to the top of the slide and licked the kid at the top, then bounded to the monkey bars to investigate a swinging child’s boots. She was so visibly, overwhelmingly happy that something in my chest almost cracked. I love her. I love seeing her that way. After a few minutes I put on my boots and went outside too. It’s been a long time since I played tag in a schoolyard in the dark; it’s been a long time since I’ve laughed that hard.
I love it here. I love my job and I love the way this place feels around me. I love kids and I love cookie night. I’m almost certainly going to sign a contract for next year, and I’m almost certain to be single as long as I stay in the bush.
So this new loneliness stings because I know it probably isn’t temporary. I am where I want to be, and it looks like that means being alone. That isn’t what I want, exactly, but it is what I want, mostly, so I don’t really know what to do about it.
Cookie nights; Silna-joy; caribou chunks, single serving.
Today I’m going to find a new acquaintance’s house. She invited me to come by and start beading some glove-tops.