Short-Timer

The house is a mess. The To-Do List is long. But I’m checked out already — I’m mentally gone.

I’m a short-timer.

Leave it to Seldovians to come up with an expression that so perfectly captures the state of mind you have when you’re trying to get out of town. I’m sure other people and other places use similar words — travel isn’t unique to Seldovians, after all — but in a seasonal community like this one, it applies to so many of us that it becomes a collective vibe sometimes.

You’re on short-timer status.

It’s implied that you aren’t available for a long conversation. You’ve got packing to do. You’re distracted and busy. Everyone understands: the fridge is getting bare, just a few eggs and carrots left. You don’t buy any fresh stuff during that last week. Whatever is left over will go to the neighbors who are staying home. They’ll give you their eggs and carrots next time they leave town. Cooking becomes more challenging than usual. Want to go to the Linwood for a burger & brew?

You’ve got the short-timer’s disease.

It’s understood that all projects are now on hold. Board meetings, proposals, and paperwork become unbearable. Decisions get deferred until your return. It’s the best when you can say, “There’s no internet where I’m going. If you don’t hear from me, that doesn’t mean I’m not interested/engaged/committed.” They get it, you don’t have to explain. You shift the weight to those who are staying behind. Next time they leave, the weight’ll get shifted back to you. Together, we hold it all up.

You’re short-timin’ it.

Chuck and Vivian just returned from the desert, and are headed to Europe soon. Joe and Carla are going Outside for the rest of the winter. The French are in France, but will be here in the spring. Kate and Caleb are headed back East for a family gathering. Valisa’s home from Dutch, but on her way to Bolivia. Simon is someplace cold and windy. Slough is back from Hawaii, brown as a nut. Stan was here for a few days, but is on the Slope now for work. Suzie’s in California, but will be home in February to get her greenhouse warmed up. Erin and Hig and the kids are climbing around at Macchu Pichu. Camille is on the Tusty; she doesn’t know her schedule, so no one else does either.

It’s catch as catch can. We are opportunistic visitors, and get caught up when our time overlaps here at home. Potlucks, beach fires, birthday parties, and group dinners get squeezed into the short spaces. Some of us are retirees and travel for fun, or to get away from the cold. For those of us who work, Alaska employment is so often seasonal: dependent on the fish openers or the ferry schedule, tourism time or the two-on-two-off pattern of the oil industry. Many of us have family in the Lower 48, and we’re able to have extended visits in the winter because we’ve worked hard during the summer. I’ve lived here for almost five years but have only spent one summer at home. (As in most things, I have to be “different” and go the reverse way of everyone else.) One friend, Betsy, spends her summers here. I met her in June 2013 and have never seen her again since.

You’re a short-timer now, aren’t you?

Let me give you hug, in case I don’t see you again before you go. But this is a small town. You tend to see the same people over and over that last week. You say goodbye many times. You give and receive lots of hugs. More hugs can be expected when you get home.

I’m okay with that.

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This entry was posted in Alaska, Culture, Language, Seldovia, Travel, Uncategorized, Work. Bookmark the permalink.

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