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Jolene, here for summer, here forever

Jason Hersey/Sun Star Columnist

May 6, 2014

Over the years, I have always been baffled by how many students at UAF spend the cold, dark winter trudging through school, and the snow, and as soon as May hits and finals are over, leave the state.

Fairbanks has always been a place where people come from all over—for school, work or seasonal endeavors. So much of this transient population misses the point of why many of us have come here, for the same reasons, and decided to call this quirky place home.

Now, if you “got yur thing goin’ on” in some other place this summer, it’s okay, but don’t rule out the best part of living in Fairbanks—summertime, where the living really is, easy. Sure there are mosquito armies, insomnia reigns, and that pent up, tad bit of crazy loves to come out and play. But it’s all part of the fun. The stories that you make in summertime are the stories that define your love for the northland.

I’m going to tell you one such story of the typical kid that decided one summer not to go back home to mommy, daddy and the ever slowly fading, high school sweetie. We’ll call this kid, Jolene.

Jolene, for some reason, had this urge to see the midnight sun and bask in its lovely rays. So, like any typical kid, Jolene decided he better find some steady funds for his sun-basking tendencies. When Jolene looked on Craigslist, the News-Miner classifieds, the state and UAF websites, and the plethora of bulletin boards around town, she came to realize that there were more jobs here than back at home, and that most only wanted a commitment of three to four months—perfect for returning to school in the fall!

Jolene also decided that living in the dorms over the summer might be a bit drab, and he’d have to listen to the Ironworkers clinking around all summer, so he opted for a $400 dry cabin or a shared house thinking it would fit the budget perfectly. After all, “I have never really cooked for myself, lived on my own or pooped in an outhouse,” Jolene thought, “Why not give it a shot?”

With the job and home life secured, Jolene checked out Alaska every chance she got. She went to a few of the many Alaskan festivals, learned to fish, camped out with the compadres, had some Alaskan love affairs, cultivated her own inner crazy, and began to build the contacts that would help Jolene pursue a worthwhile, scholastic, social and professional foothold, which would shape his life.

Now, Jolene has a shaggy, Alaska beard, or some fuzzy, hippy armpit hair, and has been here for six years. Jolene loves Alaska, and her people, and has awesome seasonal jobs that afford her the ability to leave when most want nothing more than a warm beach.

All I’m saying is, if you are still on the fence or don’t have a really good reason to head back home this summer, why spend nine months in one of the coldest, darkest, and arguably most miserable winter places on the planet without reaping what is owed to us all for withstanding it? The “summertime crazies” are the only reason most people endure this place.

Do what you got to do, and don’t worry, the beard and hippy armpit hair are definitely optional. If we don’t see you again until the fall, we will tell you some stories that will make you want to hang out with us next summer. Cheers everybody, and thanks for reading this year.

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