I have to admit that I had not expected that our relocation would be to Alaska (even after the honeymoon), nor so soon. I had figured that we would spend a year or two evaluating places and then pick one in the lower 48 as the best practical compromise. We had lots of criteria we were trying to work with, but one of the killers was getting away from the heat–we both just get absolutely wilty when the mercury nears 80, and by the time it hits 100, we’re lucky to even be conscious. (Yes, it can get “too cold” even for us, but you really have to work at it.) In doing our research, only a couple of places even came close to our goal; most of them were really little different than Lakewood–”average” summer temps in the 80s, with altogether too many days in the 90s, and even a few 100s to add insult to injury. In order to get substantially better than that, you had to get really high (Crested Butte, CO, at 8900′ elevation, was a possible)–or, you could go to Alaska, which from a numbers standpoint, was simply perfect–but again, through even March and April, I did not even count it as a possible.
Why, you ask? Get this: I simply didn’t realize how much Cathy dug the idea. I knew exactly how much I thought it was the perfect plan, but I had been trying very hard not to put any pressure on her, as it didn’t seem like the kind of thing that someone would “just go along with”. I had been up there before, helping my parents move my uncle from Anchorage back to Bozeman–during hunting season, no less–and it’s a bloody miracle I came back at that time. (Good thing I did, of course, as I ran into Cathy shortly thereafter!) So imagine my surprise when–sometime in March/April–we had a conversation in which we each learned that the other was privately holding Palmer as the undisputed first-choice for relocation. !!!!!
Well, what on earth were we waiting for, then?
Of course there were and are all kinds of answers to that question. We are rather conditioned from birth to look at things this way–why disrupt anything / there is risk / think of all the things that could go wrong / what about family and friends / what about job–and we went through them, systematically. And somewhat to our surprise, we found that only one thing really tied us to the Denver location–our magnificent friends. Huh.
What pulled the pin on the grenade was news of the pregnancy. It was at that point that we made the fateful choice to turn the question–why go?–on its ear: why not go? Even better: if not now, at this point in our lives when we are not tied to a geography, when?
And you know, as soon as we looked at it that way, the decision just kinda made itself. Neither Cathy nor I wanted to look back on things twenty years from now and say, “I sure wish we’d taken the chance and tried to live the dream when we had the ability to do it.” So, it was decided: we would move to Alaska to raise us a rug-rat. Great. Okay, when?
Well, now we had a lit fuse, and thus a time frame. What to do with it? We asked a few people the pertinent question: is it easier to move while pregnant, or with a newborn? (Neither of us really wanted to let more than a year or two go by before we did it, lest the opportunity be lost.) The answer was pretty much unanimous: while pregnant. Okay then, now we’ve got a time frame for the move, and a really good incentive to meet it.
We had our initial appointment with Westside Women’s Care (recommended to us by our primary-care doctor, who we had learned to trust as having a healthy respect for naturopathy and midwifery), at which we were suitably overwhelmed with both all the normal information, plus the cherry-on-top tidbit that our due date calculated out to be…Christmas. Now how about that!
There were discussions of plans to observe half-birthdays to avoid holiday confusion, and there were early discussions of names (Noel and Jesús, for example, were right out). Mostly, we were just excited, and of course cautious. We were a little hesitant to announce the baby to everyone until we’d got a comfortable way along. (It really is kinda scary how common early miscarriages are. Having been through this once now, I realize a little better that referring to any healthy birth as a miracle is no platitude!) For parents, we immediately sent Christmas cards announcing their present of grandparenthood, and as the weeks went along we added others to the announcement list, finally getting to everyone around 20 weeks or so.
And out of it all came The Plan. Put simply, The Plan was to have moved to Alaska by the time the baby was born. This started out with the idea that we might take the second of our two big planned summer trips, to the Seattle area in August, and simply arrange to finish that trip by stepping on one of the Blue Canoes (Alaska Marine Highway ferries) from Bellingham, bound for Whittier south of Anchorage.
And you’ve all read “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, right? “The first casualty of any war is the battle plan.” Dang, that guy was smart.