Becoming Alaskan: The three degrees of an Alaskan

With summer drawn to a close, street traffic is thinning out, apartments are available for rent (for now), and the seasonal masses have flitted off to their winter doings. The season now, whatever you may call it (shoulder season, rainy season, fall), is what separates the snow birds from the diehards; the spectators from the adventurers; the visitors from the Alaskans.


As I am coming to discover, it’s also the period where you can’t go to the grocery store without bumping into three people you know.

Six degrees of separation, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, is the theory that everyone in the vast expanse of our planet Earth is six steps or fewer from any other human being on the globe. Not unlike the six degrees of Kevin Bacon theory — if you happen to be a Hollywood actor/actress.

Here in Alaska, I’m bumping the degrees down to three.

With town populations across the state on the seasonal decline, I am willing to bet the insert-foot-in-mouth scenarios are simultaneously on the rise.

Didn’t realize the woman at the end of the table was your boss’ sister-in-law? Too late, you just babbled away about your recent vacation — during that time you said you were “sick”.

Oh, your friend wants to set you up on a date with a great guy who “doesn’t go out much” — thus the reason you don’t already know him? Bummer he’s also your gynecologist. Check please!

Not a huge fan of the last play that ran in town? Thought you’d share your unfiltered thoughts over a casual cocktail with friends? Too bad your friend’s friend who came along last minute is married to the lead.

All this to say — Alaskans have thick skins. You kind of have to. There’s nothing like a great evening out with your special whomever, only to overhear the next table over laying into your place of work/friend/favorite hangout/kind of salmon. Sure you want to flip the table over, roar like a lion and toss your drink in their face (what, just me?) but in the end you know it’s better not to. Who knows, you may have just wasted a perfectly good cocktail by chucking it in the direction of your mother’s best friend’s mom.

So in the end, it’s best to do what Alaskan’s do best — let your diehard Alaskan adventurer freak flag fly. And work on your grocery aisle lunges.

• Sarah Cannard is a transplant from the Lower 48 who enjoys long walks on Sandy Beach, Carolans with her coffee and days when her socks match. Follow her on Twitter @becomingalaskan.


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