What is it about the seasonal life that drives people crazy? Is there something in the water? Maybe it’s too much sun exposure, or not enough. I don’t fully understand, but after years of working and traveling, I have come to realize I am part of a unique, wild, and eclectic group of people… and I am so proud!
In the beginning of the season, everyone is so happy and enthusiastic. But as the weeks turn into months, we start to go a little insane. For people who need to be constantly on the move, we feel trapped if we’re in a place for too long. With no personal space, we become edgy. We can hear our inner vagabond shouting, “I have got to get out of here!” To cope, we drink and smoke and stay out late, trying to forget how restless we are, but tomorrow… its back to the grind again.
There is no doubt that this life is hard. It takes a certain type of person to just pack up and go like this. Living out of a suitcase and sharing a bathroom for months at a time is our lifestyle. As time passes, we complain about work, the food, our clothes, the weather, getting sick, having no TV, expensive flights home, etc. We’re tired. We’re dirty. We’re stressed and exhausted. We eat, sleep, work and live with one another and sometimes it feels like we’ve been through hell and back. If adventure were easy, everyone would do it!
So what is it? Who would live this kind of life? A life with no consistency or personal space.
The obvious answer is of course… to see the world! Here in Alaska, in between the stress and hardships, we buzz with excitement over who saw the northern lights the night before. Anytime Mt. Denali comes out from behind the clouds or we watch a bear forage for blueberries, we can’t help but gaze in awe and remember, “oh yeah, that’s why I came up here.”
More than this though, I think it’s because many of us are searching for something. That niche in life that fits perfectly. Something intangible has brought us to Denali for a common purpose, to live this part of our journey with eachother.
And after braving the storm together, this group of strangers are now like family.
I will think back on this summer and remember everyone I met and the fun times we had.
I will remember the time our Serbian cook asked us to pick up “Little Caesar’s” from town. With uncomprehending stares we looked at each other until he made a cutting motion with his hand. “Ohhhhhhh… You mean little scissor’s?!” He then responded in his thick Serbian accent, “That’s what I said.” My God we laughed so hard!
How about the time I was working and had to go to the post office. I was stressed out and rushed everywhere that day and had to mail some packages. I impatiently ran into the post office only to see a shut, roll-top door over the front desk with a sign that read “Closed 10:30 to 11:30.” Without thinking I blurted out, “Dammit!!” Slowly the door pulled open to show every employee staring at me blankly. No one spoke. My mood went from anger to apologetic in a flash. “Oh no, I didn’t think anyone was here.” This is awkward Aaron. It’s so awkward right now. “Hi, I need to mail these please!” –Insert uneasy laugh here-
At the end of the day, we couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. We’re outgoing and introverted. We’re strong yet sensitive. We’re sane mixed with a little crazy too!
Yes this life is difficult, but it’s who we are. Despite the hardships and uncertainties, this lifestyle is vibrant, exciting and full of wonder.
This is the life we choose. The life of a seasonal worker.
The Northern Lights
So the six of us stood out in the night on a gravel runway, heads turned toward the stars. We watched the Aurora flicker and wave across the sky, a green banner of painted light that streamed high above the Alaskan frontier. You’d swear there was a concert going on behind the trees. The lights ebbed and flowed in an eerie, cascading display. Words that come to mind are haunting, other worldly, stunning… I’ve never seen anything like it.