My Alaska Dream – Part 2

From City to Bush

We spent a fun year of creating a life together.  Keith owned a janitorial business that had previously been a family owned and operated business, with his mother and brothers also being involved.  He used to tell me stories of how he worked with his dad when he was just a kid.  Sitting on the buffer machine as his Dad buffed the floors at the banks and businesses they cleaned. Keith asked me to join him in his business but I told him no, not until we are married.  I was the branch manager of a local credit union and understood the importance of maintaining my financial security and autonomy until we got married.

At the end of a year I asked him if he wanted to get married and his answer was no.  So I found an apartment and moved out.  He helped me move my stuff for which I was grateful, you bet! Up the ramp from the waterline to the parking lot, I was very grateful even though my best girlfriend was appalled at the situation.  I took the 19 foot Olympic, and the payments related.  I didn’t have a vehicle with which to move it with, so it sat in the parking lot of my apartment.  Keith took the houseboat and the financial obligation it represented. 

Two weeks later he was knocking on my door, then down on his knees asking me if I would marry him.  He said he couldn’t live without me and that was all it took.  We went to the local jewelers and bought an engagement ring and wedding set.  I agreed to move back in with him but insisted that we seek out a counselor to work with prior to marriage.  I checked around and found the perfect one for us.  The first thing the counselor (I’ll call him Dr. G) had us do was each write a page about whatever we wanted to.  In our first session, Dr. G. analyzed our handwriting and we each started understanding the person we had fallen in love with.

We were going to get married on summer solstice at a very special campground out the road. My folks were going to come up from Idaho and we were starting to plan a small yet intimate wedding.  Memorial weekend we went camping and Keith told me he didn’t want to get married!  What?!!  Well actually, he wanted me as his wife, he just didn’t want to participate in the wedding.  He was a quiet reserved man who wasn’t into social gatherings – remember he was a mountain man!  Plus we were footing the bill for the wedding and it was a burden that we could have handled but was easier not to.  We decided to go into town, get our marriage license and get married by a minister at our friend’s house, back yard if the weather permitted.  We got married several days later. I let my folks know what had transpired.  They laughed as they too had eloped.

After we were married I quit my job at the credit union and started working with Keith in the janitorial business.  We cleaned several banks, insurance companies, tourism offices, even the Governor’s office for one year.  Keith had a pager and was on call 24/7.  It felt like we never had a life. 

The bank manager had a repossessed house he wanted to walk us into.  We contemplated life in suburbia and decided no way!  We sold everything we didn’t need, got rid of things that took electricity – as we were going off grid and took off for a small town on an island where his brother lived.  We sold our boats, which in hindsight we would have kept, had we really comprehended what we were getting ourselves in for.  The place we moved to was only accessible by boat or float plane.  It was quite an adventure, moving our belongings down via float plane. It took five planes, but we were so grateful to be out of the city and onto the business of living simply, off the land, close to nature.  The stuff our dreams were made of!

Continue to Part 3

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