As I walk through the door, I suddenly see a cloud of steam as the heat of the indoors meets the -35E temperature of this January morning. With each breath, a sharp feeling of coldness pierces my throat and settles in my lungs. With each step, the sound of fresh snow beneath my boots reminds me of the two inches that fell the night before. As I try to start my 1975 Jeep, the sound of the engine turning over deadens all other sounds. While my fingers begin to numb, many questions run through my head. Why am I here? What were my parents thinking when they moved here? When is my truck going to start?
My parents were born and raised in a small town in southwestern Iowa. My dad was raised in a close-knit farming family. From a very young age, his life had been determined for him; he and his brothers were expected to take over the family farm.
My mother, the youngest of nine, had grown up as the cute little farm girl with a horse. She was forced to mature at a young age. Her parents owned a small-town bar/cafe where she worked.
Five years after my birth, my parents made a decision that would change our lives forever. They decided they wanted more in life. They wanted a change. They told their families that they were moving to Alaska!
What in the world were they thinking? Why would they move to Alaska, the land of polar bears and Eskimos? When I asked, they said, "We wanted to experience adventure and to get away from our strong roots for a while." My grandparents thought that they were crazy and said, "It is a horrible thing to do to those kids."
But my parents moved, with nothing but a few clothes and $500 dollars. Through hard work and perseverance, they have not only survived, but are happier than ever. My father has attained his dream job as a wildlife technician for the Department of Fish and Game. My mother is now the manager of the high school kitchen.
These two people had the courage to go for their dreams - no matter what others thought. Through good times and bad, my parents never lost sight of their goals. What they wanted most in the world was to raise their children to be successful. I honor and thank them. Because of their teachings, I have become an independent young man who knows that the American Dream really does come true. Through their hard work and strong will, they have become happy and successful. I have learned through their actions and mistakes that anything is possible.
So, when I ask myself why I am in Alaska, I remind myself how I got here. No matter how cold it gets, I can't think of a better place to grow up. The final turn of the ignition causes an explosion of sound and exhaust. As the engine begins to idle, I turn the heater on and I hightail it back to the warmth of my house. I sure do love Alaska! -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.