Leaving Normal

By , May 24, 2012

There’s a pleasant, quiet movie I rather like called Leaving Normal, about two women who abandon their life in the lower 48 to travel to Hyder, Alaska. The title has become a catchphrase in my mind for returning to homestead life after variations in our routine, like family visits.

Michelle’s parents left on Friday evening, putting an end to our shuttle diplomacy-style visitation schedule. The timing of their departure gave us 3 days before the next hike out, for Michelle’s work. No telling when my next hike out will be—possibly weeks, as I have a lot of catch up to do on chores and a freelance contract. Those days allowed Michelle to recover from the local crud that had hit her hard, to rebuild strength and work on the garden, a soul-sustaining activity in itself. I returned to hauling firewood, spent a little time fishing (the Dolly Varden are back, although not numerous) worked on resuscitating the compost pile and refocused on the contract. Among many other things.

While hiking out and back most days to visit the folks made for long, tiring days, we had a good time. Setting aside the irony of the situation, that our folks traveled to what is in essence a nearby town, and we traveled there each day to join them, we enjoyed reconnecting with Haines after long isolation. I felt this more keenly than Michelle, since her work in town 3-4 days a week has made her far more familiar with town. For me, it served as a reminder of the importance of being a tourist in your own town, which I may touch on in a future post.

Beyond that, we had our usual disorientation, dealing with flush toilets and the exposed feeling we now get using indoor plumbing, drinking city-treated water (ugh!) and seeing so many people all at the same time. “Normal life” for most people has become something less familiar, something other for us. We don’t mind going there now and then, but it’s a relief to leave it and return home.

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