August 27, 2016
Way back in January my boyfriend, Simon, moved to US Coast Guard station Ketchikan in Alaska. Since moving north, we have only been able to see each other one evening. He had a flight layover in Seattle, WA back in April and I was able to catch a train from OSU up to see him for a few hours. The short span of time went by in a blur so quickly that we hardly count it as seeing each other. So really, we haven’t seen each other in nine long months. That is, until the much anticipated day that is TODAY!
My dad drove me up to the Seattle airport this morning. After stopping at Five Guys for lunch, I stepped foot into the airport only an hour before my plane was scheduled to take off. I was in a rush, as I was not willing to miss this flight for anything. And, to make things a bit more complicated, I am still on crutches and in a full leg brace from the knee surgery that I had a few weeks ago. I scheduled to have wheel chair assistance, but when they were not at the meeting area on time I did not wait around wasting time. I was lucky to get directed to a very short security line and after having my leg brace wanded and Xrayed, I crutched as fast as I could through the airport to my gate at a speed that is surely a new personal record, and possibly Olympic records as well. I made it to my gate a speedy 20 minutes after my dad dropped me off at the airport curb!
While staring out the window at the plane that was about to transport me 680 miles to one of my favorite people in the world, I heard someone begin speaking to me. It’s amazing how people will see you wearing a leg brace and using crutches and proceed to tell you that they had the “exact same thing happen” as they tell their tale of torn ACLs, knee replacements, knee sprains, ect. even though you haven’t said a word about your own knee story which is indeed nothing like theirs. After talking a bit about his ten knee surgeries, he said that he was headed to Ketchikan with two good friends since way back in high school for a fishing trip. I told them that I was headed to visit my boyfriend. My excitement was obvious. It turns out they are all from nearby towns in Ohio close to Norwalk where Simon is from!! I wondered what the odds of that could be and texted Simon about the coincidence before boarding.
I handed off my crutches to a flight attendant as I boarded the plane and found me window seat in row nine. A few days ago I changed my seat to the window seat that was nearest to the front of the plane so that I would be exiting the plane sooner. Once I removed my leg brace for the flight and buckled up, I struck up conversation with an older couple sitting next to me. Imagine my surprise to find out that they too are from a very nearby town in Ohio! At this point everyone I had met was from Northern Ohio. I bet they all would have known other people in common had they begun talking to one another.
The two hour flight thankfully went by very quickly as I heard stories of the couple’s world travels and saw photos of polar bear, seals, and ice pack from their most recent ocean excursion. As we flew over glaciers, the wife pointed them out to me from within the cracks of clouds. I had butterflies as soon as the captain instructed the flight attendants prepare for landing and turned the seat belt sign on. I was only minutes away now! As we came in to land we flew all the way past Ketchikan. The airport and runway is on a separate island directly across from town. As we flew by I got a great view of the town I have heard is a lot like my hometown, Astoria, Oregon. Next thing I knew, I was off the plane.
As I crutched my way to baggage claim, I was scanning through the hordes of people wondering where Simon could be. The first thing that caught my eye was a bright orange shirt like the one I got him for Christmas. After staring and blinking a few times my brain finally reacted as Simon began walking over to me. We were both grinning ear to ear and my eyes were watering just a bit. A moment later, the men I had met walked up to meet Simon themselves and talk about which high schools they went to. When my bag came around we said goodbye and parted ways.
From the airport we boarded the ferry after a few minutes’ wait. While we were crossing the Tongass Narrows planes were landing and taking off in the waters between us and Ketchikan. It was like a free air show on water! I was also welcomed to Alaska with sunny blue skies and warm weather.
As we were leaving the ferry, Simon mentioned to one of the ferry workers that he liked his baseball cap with some team logo on it. It turns out he too is from Simon’s area of Ohio! That now made 6/6 people all from Ohio. I told Simon and he was as surprised as me. He’s only met maybe two people from around where he grew up since moving to Alaska. Every once in a while, when unlikely things like this pop up, we call it a “poke,” like a sign that this is our grand plan.
As soon as I got onto the main land, we went for a drive. We stopped at Herring Cove and looked over the bridge at the countless number of salmon below. We also stopped at one of his favorite fishing spots. After driving as far south as we could, where the road literally ended with an “End of Road” sign, we turned around and drove north through town and beyond to where Simon lives half an hour from downtown.
It is so cool to finally be seeing for myself where he works and lives. His apartment is very nice, perfect size for one or two people. We grilled salmon for dinner and tried to believe that I am actually here.
About 8:30pm he got a text from a friend that a couple of them were having a bonfire at so-and-so’s house. Off we went to meet a few of his station friends! We arrived as the blaze was dying down to hot coals and the last of the sun was slipping over the horizon for the night. I met four of his coworkers, two of which are friends I remembered hearing stories about once I learned both first anddd last names, because both are used interchangeably as first names really.
Two s’mores and some laughs later, we were headed home so thankful to be together after nine long months and so excited for the next two weeks. Spending so much time apart really makes you appreciate every moment together. Every memory becomes a blessing and a treasure to cherish forever.