4th of July, in particular, in my head, is a series of snapshots: I see the whole town gathered on South Franklin, cheering and waving small flags as our town puts on the parade of the year; I see the sandcastle contest at Sandy Beach, always sunny and kids running around barefoot on the beach and splashing in the water; I see dogs leaping after frisbees; lines around the grills in the shelters, waiting for hot dogs and hamburgers that will be consumed with dewy cans of coca cola or root beer plucked from those large, plastic coolers filled with ice; I see the explosion of fireworks only really visible against the dark silhouette of the mountains, the smoke mingling with the dusky blue/grey sky, nights never really becoming night, instead just a slow sunset that goes straight into sunrise.
I’m going back to Alaska in less than a month. It will be my first visit in 8 years – the first time back to Juneau in 12 years – and I’m full of anticipation, but it’s also a nervous anticipation, because I don’t want these images to become marred or altered. Even if it is reality. When I am deep in a moment of Heimweh, I want to be able to sink into a perfect memory, and just let it consume me.
So, yesterday, Juneau, that’s exactly what I did. I had my beer in the beer garden with American friends, toasted my life and my community and my decision to move to Europe, but also took a few moments to relish memories, tinged with pangs of nostalgia, and appreciate the amazing childhood I had in Alaska.