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Stephanie and I had to fly to Texas for the holiday separately, due to some quirk in the way we booked our flights. She, Jacob and Jamiee flew on Friday night, just after midnight. Toby and I were to follow on a flight just after midnight on Saturday night. We had twenty-four hours to hang out together in Fairbanks.

That Saturday morning, I woke up at Toby’s cry. I wasn’t sure what time it was and didn’t trust the hotel room clock. I looked out the window to check on the day’s progress. It was nearly nine in the morning, but it was as dark as the dead of night. No sun announced a new day, and it was twenty five degrees below zero.

I wasn’t crazy about the idea of flying through the night with Toby. I know how cranky people get on a red-eye with an inconsolable baby. But he did well. He slept most of the way, and I loved holding him, looking down at him and occasionally brushing his cheek as we soared through the night sky.  

For the first couple of days in Texas, every time we would go outside, Jacob kept saying “It’s bright? It’s bright?” “Yes, Jacob,” I told him, “That’s called the sun. It shines here in the wintertime.” Toby, not yet as articulate as Jacob, just screamed and sqwinched his eyes closed each time we drove into the blinding sun. It must have seemed like torture indeed to be strapped into a car seat, facing such a fiery ball.  

Our time in Texas was pleasant as always. We enjoyed having Jamiee with us and sharing another facet of our lives, families and histories with her. It truly was experiencing it all again through her eyes.

I flew back to Alaska on January 4th. Alone. I arrived after midnight and went straight back to Sophie Station Hotel where I’d stayed with Toby two weeks before. The next morning, after two weeks of sunshine and warmth, I woke up a little disoriented. Though the clock said it was well after nine, I got up and looked out the window for some visual indicator of the advance of the day. Night still had a firm grip. Darkness. Cold.

It has become a regular thing for Stephanie to stay in Texas an extra two weeks after I have to return. I’ve always encouraged that, because post-yuletide winter in Alaska is the coldest, darkest, and hardest time of the year. If Seasonal Affective Disorder is going to strike, it’s going to strike then. The more time she spends in Texas, the shorter the slow and painful slog towards breakup. Besides, being here alone gives me a chance to work all the hours and do all of the little projects I want.

On the drive up to Circle, I was thinking about being back in Alaska. Back in Circle. Back in the deep freeze. I was thinking about Stephanie and about Jamiee and what they would be coming back to. I started to think about them staying in Texas longer than the scheduled two weeks. There was no real deadline or time by which they had to be back.

I talked to Stephanie that night and floated the idea of them staying longer. She was reluctant, but we continued to talk about it. We both wrestled with the idea for several days. Despite all of the benefits of being able to stay in the DFW metroplex a little longer, it would also mean that we would be apart longer. And that would be hard. Stephanie and I belong together. I would also miss Jamiee and the boys. Though that would be the hardest part, I encouraged her to stay. And so when we talked on the phone Saturday afternoon, it was decided.  

As I clicked off the phone and set it down, this house suddenly became a much more lonely place.  They won’t be back in another week. They won’t be back for another two months. This reaffirms my belief once again that living in remote isolation and cold is a matter of mindset. And my mindset has suddenly shifted.

At four o’clock in the afternoon, I reached for the shades over the living room windows. I had opened them just a few hours before to see the day that was passing outside the windows, but a short few hours later, the reflections from interior lights were shining back at me stronger than the failing daylight outside, the sun having dipped below the horizon about an hour before.   

Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 10:07PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

I too sensed her desperation more this year than in the past. I think it is even more so for women to have that emotional ties, bonds, and activities. Yukon was bearable to her because she has a good friend Clarissa, to do things with and shared experience. There was nothing like that for her in Circle. We've enjoyed your family stay here so much, and the Lord has even opened the avenue for their stay in our soon to be empty house.
January 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDad (JLR)
While I am excited that we get to spend more time with Steph and the kids, I am sad for you. Wish you didn't have to endure it by yourself. We will be thinking of you.
January 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMel

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