Countdown to Alaska: Thoughts on moving cross-country

I imagine that most everyone moves at least once in their lifetime. It can be a small move, from townhouse to house. It can be emotionally huge, such as moving into the college dorm or moving from your parents’ house to your first apartment. It can be geographically huge, moving across state or maybe even national borders.

My current move fits the latter two categories. I was born and raised in Southwest Pennsylvania. I went to college in Northwest Pennsylvania. Barring a one-month trip to Colorado, I have always lived in Pennsylvania. Yet in a little less than two weeks, I will be moving to Alaska.

I think it’s safe to say that I am equal parts excited and apprehensiveĀ about this move. I’m excited because the reason I’m moving is that I finally secured a full-time teaching job, something I’ve wanted for a while now. The fact that the classroom is combined 3rd/4th grade, which is my favorite age to work with, is even better. I’m also excited about getting to see a new part of the country and learn about a new culture and way of life.

Of course, the new way of life is also part of my apprehension. I have no frame of reference for how the people of this community, an Inuit village, live beyond what I’ve read and seen on TV or in movies. I’ll be almost literally in the middle of nowhere, 30 miles from the nearest town. There are no roads in the village; travel in and out is done by boat or bush plane. Anything I want to bring with me has to either fit in the suitcase or be shipped ahead of time. Most of all, I’m apprehensive about living stealth for the foreseeable future. Early last week, I drafted an e-mail to the head of personnel for the district, coming out, but I didn’t send it. The last time I was living stealth, I was still in my hometown, and only had to worry about it during working hours at the school. At the end of the day, I’d go home to my parents’ place and it wasn’t an issue anymore. On weekends I’d be at my other job, where they’d known me for years, or hanging out with friends, and my status as trans wasn’t a problem. The point is, I didn’t have to live stealth full-time; I always had someone to talk to. Granted, in this age of technology I won’t be cut off from my support network. But I’ve always done better when I have someone I can talk to face-to-face. Also, when I’m stealth, it feels like there’s this constant pressure on me, weighing me down. I feel constantly on my guard, over-thinking everything I say or do, afraid of letting something slip.

So yes, I’m apprehensive. And excited. So bring on the move. I’m ready for the challenge.


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