I didn’t move to bush Alaska looking for love.
That’s a super rough paraphrase taken from one of the first teacher blogs I read on bush Alaska.
I’d argue that most teachers moving to a village school don’t have that in their immediate plans. In fact, most of our staff is single (never married or divorced). We often joke about the potential first date options: bingo (which I’ve been heavily advised against), a post office trip, or the ever-romantic walk to the store. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll take a walk as far as the cemetery on the way to the landfill, or perhaps a nice long sno-go ride across the lagoon.
With plane tickets at $175 dollars just to get to a large nearby village (3,000 people, the hub of flights to anywhere else, and also the closest place where you can drink alcohol legally), it is not shocking why people end up marrying spouses that grew up in the house over and went to school with them for 13 years.
Then there are Hallmark Christmas movies or a good snowy novel set in romantic Alaska and they always seem to start along the lines of the earlier paraphrase too…and change somewhere early on in the adventure.
It’s my “early on in the adventure” and let me tell you about my non-Hallmark story.
Similar to that one family member we ALL have; my students are obsessed with my love life. The only thing they cared about my entire first week of teaching was my age and my marital status. The novelty of having a new teacher even infected the other grades and I had all students coming to me and asking me the same series of questions:
- What’s your name?
- How old are you?
- Are you married?
I would say that these are fairly common curiosities around the world and although I found the questioning more intense here, it was nothing new.
Then, they tried to set me up with the visiting music teacher.
Normally, I teach music (and all specials) with just a 30-minute period away from the students for lunch. It isn’t as exhausting as I thought it would be. However, on the morning of my first day of school, I learned that I would have to rework my schedule to fit in a traveling set of music teachers. They would be with us for the week. (These are the best surprises a teacher can get.)
As they learned to two-step, my students came up to me while pointing at the male teacher, “you should dance with him”. Easily deflected, rookie level question…but they are insistent little cupids. Not to be discouraged they quickly turned to him, “you should dance with our teacher”. Awkwardness ensues. Later in the week, it turned serious very quickly with a student flatly telling me, “you should marry him”.
Spoiler alert: There was no dancing…or marriage.
After I quickly squashed rumors that my students were trying to spread about me dating any assortment of students ranging all ages, I’ve stumbled into the biggest lie they think I’ve ever told:
“Do you have a hunny? Where’s your hunny? What’s your hunny’s name?”
Now, here we are. Valentine’s Day.
Last Valentine’s Day I was in Brazil, a country that doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in February, missing out on all the good BOGO deals and red flavored candies, but eating a delicious menu of Brazilian food (and spending a night out at an Indian restaurant).
Today, I sit in the arctic, still missing out on all the good BOGO deals, and looking forward to meeting up with a coworker to get puppy snuggles and eat some food bought in our local store (aka an $8 box of Kraft Mac & Cheese or maybe a frozen pizza). That is, of course, if I survive the classroom holiday party that is really just a code name for the sugar-induced emotional roller coaster my students and I will be on in the afternoon.
To all of you “road system non-dry village” people, have a drink or two for me.
And remember, all the best dates (self, friend, or other) are free…or where you can spend $8 on something more substantial than a box of Mac & Cheese…or you have a gift card, or perhaps a killer coupon on top of the holiday special!
Happy Valentine’s Day
P.S. THANK YOU, DAD, for the Hersheyettes, they were a complete surprise and they arrived yesterday, I’m going to let my kiddos try them!
P.P.S. Thanks in advance for the annual Valentine’s Day package of familial love, Mom and Clair, YOU ARE THE BEST, I’m eagerly awaiting their arrival!
P.P.P.S.THANKS EMMIE! Just got your care package today!!
P.P.P.P.S. Dad, I’ll keep you posted on your dream of having a bush pilot son-in-law at your service.