Sunday, September 22, 2013


There's something about leaving that makes the words tumble like unpolished rocks through the swirl of my brain and cut their way out of my fingers or pen. 

The truth is I haven't really written lately.  And by lately I mean pretty much my entire Homer Alaskan experience went undocumented.  When I first got here the loneliness and solitude fueled a couple pieces about snow and mountains and biting cold, but when my real experience picked up the writing somehow stopped. 

In 3 weeks I will have been in Alaska for a year.  As long as I was in Tchad.  As long as I'll be anywhere for awhile.  I don't know what it is about a year, but around the turn of the sweeping annual clock, something strange happens to me.  The drums of hmmmm and where? and there? and ahhh! start to hum and pick up momentum, the perennial itch rages up through my subconscious and manifests as a thousand prodding pin pricks on the soles of my feet, and then one day I snap and launch a shaking breathy dart of forward motion into the universe - all it takes is one decision, and suddenly everything lines up to catapult me shaking and wide eyed and resolute into the next journey. 


so where am I going?

see the thing is I have really no idea.  the thing is that the plans I have could capsize at any time.  but the thing is I'm doing it again.  and all of those old feelings, the fear, the heartache, the pain of leaving the people I love, the hysteria and compulsion of the unknown, the stern self-lectures about how I can do it, how the risk will be worth it, its all coming back.  Its the same way I felt as I grappled with leaving for Tchad, as I wrote about my terror and excitement to move to Homer, a place where I knew not a living soul. 

You'd think my last two journeys would have prepared me, but I'm still in chaos about it as I've always been.  The only solid known is that I'm going. 

I finally applied to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).  It will be a couple weeks until I hear if I got an interview in NYC.  and If I do, it will be a long and hopeful process of continued evaluation, but it is an immense relief to have that intention finally released to the powers that be.  I worked on my application for 5 months.  As in, I sunk about 20 hours total into it.....over five months.  As in, I was so stressed about wanting it to be perfect, about being so close to my life's dream, about what if I don't get it, what then? that I simply didn't send it.  I thought about it all the time.  I berated myself for not doing it.  I dreamed about it.  And then finally, one day, I sent it. 

It's much easier to have a dream you don't go for.  One of those tragic raisin in the sun kinds.  One of those that is so far fetched you get to live with your head in the clouds as your feet trudge the hamster wheel.  It's much harder to give your everything to one thing - to one dream, to have worked for years and years and years building a specific resume, to have gone through pain and heartbreak and thousands of hours of work - and to condense all that longing into a professional CV and send it off to an unknown human resources department.  What happens if they say no?  And what happens if they say yes?  but it is done.....

I am on the waiting list for the School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool.  I am going to get my Diploma in Tropical Nursing.  They have given me every indication that I will get in, and to that end I am behaving as if its a for sure thing.  To this end I have given notice at both my jobs - I leave Nov. 1.  I have let go of my darling cabin that I am so in love with - Nov. 1. 

I am renting out a storage unit, parking my car at Betsy's diamond ridge homestead, giving the cat (yes, i got a cat of all things) to lawd knows who, hauling heaps of accumulated goods to the Salvation Army, and trying to spend as much time near the ocean as possible. 

All of this happened in the space of a few days really.  It was nothing nothing nothing and then as soon as I got on the waiting list, everything accelerated and the great wheel of life started spinning and a fuzzy arrow emerged and I'm off running again.  But I feel good about it.  Getting this diploma and getting to study all the infectious diseases I saw in Tchad is a good career move as I pursue working internationally again. 

So - the rough plan (always subject to change), is as follows: first week of November saying goodbye to all my darlings, stop over in Juneau to see Grandparents, fly into Denver and meet the wonderful Jessi Steve and take a week long road trip hitting 7 or 8 National Parks in Utah and Colorado and maybe Wyoming.  Spending time in Idaho for several weeks hopefully studying for my class and seeing parents and old friends, maybe hopping over to Seattle, then Dec. 1 or so jumping on a one way flight to England, school for a month or so, see the lovely Bronwyn returned to the UK from Tchad, couchsurf through England and then at that point anything can happen but the plan is to travel France and lock down my French.  Once I am fluent in French nothing will stop me from working in francophone Africa and I will have a skill set that is marketable. 

All these plans will immediately be abandoned if MSF comes knocking but in lieu of that I'm headed off no matter what.

The major difference is that I did it.  I did what I came to Homer to do.  I built a life.  I have a household.  I have a car.  I have connections in the community.  I have the most amazing group of friends - strong beautiful women roughing it in tiny cabins and spilling beauty and sunshine into the world.  The difference is that this time I'm not coming back to boxes in my ex's house - this time I will be coming home.

I am not leaving permanently.  There has never been a place where I felt like I fit as much as here.  This is the place I want to call home the rest of my life.  The place I want to rest in when I come back.  The place I want to hike in and buy land in and fall in love in and grow old in.  It's the home base I was always looking for.  And I feel desperately sad to leave it.  But I have to.

It would be impossible to encapsulate this mad mad year with its darkness and light, beauty and cold, heartbreak and healing, late nights and early mornings, and all those moments and memories and friendships in between. This is wild, freeing, cosmic, and earthy place where the music is good, the produce is local, the beer flows like water, the campfires blaze, and the people are real.  The people I have met here are some of the most wonderful and genuine collection of souls I have ever crossed paths with and I am in constant gratitude. 

The flip side of the magic was that I worked 2 jobs and often did 6 or 7 days a week.  The upside is that now I can travel, but the down side is obvious - I was on the hamster wheel and it ground me down, leaving me often too exhausted to experience the culture and wildlife that this area has to offer.  I firmly know I will NEVER do this again.  I will never work a 9-5, I will never do the same thing 5 days a week with only one vacation day available a month.  I need a life style change.  I want to work hard hard for 3-6 months at a time and then have 3-6 months off to breath and hike and travel and garden and sew and brew beer and cook things and gather things and take classes.

so I'm starting the blog again.  It will be about my travels.  It contain some longing and some nonsense and hopefully some wonder.


  1. So excited to read about your new adventures :)

  2. OMG Janna! i love you, your writing, your spirit, your passion, everything! I am so blessed and happy to have you as a dear friend and fellow viciously passionate and strong women in my life, and am soooo....glad i clicked on this. You inspire me more then you could ever know. Lord know i really needed some encouragement today to thanks girli ;)

  3. been missing you- and we've never met! can't wait for more!!