This weekend was Memorial Day weekend, and normally I would have headed up to Vermont and be posting another race report about the Vermont City Marathon right about now. (Or not posting it, as I am sometimes wont to do when I get busy.) But as you’ve seen from my posts about Alaska, I chose to do something different this year. When the race director of the Prince of Wales Island Marathon approached me about coming there to be the race’s guest speaker, I knew immediately it was a really generous offer and would be an amazing experience. However, I hemmed and hawed about giving up the trip to Vermont.
I love the Memorial Day weekend traditions I have established: flying to Albany, getting to see my family there, and driving through the beautiful countryside with my mom to Burlington. Speaking at the expo, sampling Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Cabot cheese, and going to dinner at American Flatbread (seriously the best pizza in the country). Running the race, where I know every twist and turn of the course, and loving the moment when I get to make the Assault on Battery and show my pace group that they can make it up a very tough hill while still having the energy to run another 10 miles after. Finishing the race and stopping at American Flatbread for some post-race pizza and beer before driving back to Albany and stopping for Martha’s Ice Cream on the way. I can picture exactly how the weekend would have gone, and while it may be predictable, I love all of those activities. So when I went up to Alaska instead of doing that, I hoped I wouldn’t regret the decision.
Um, in case it’s not clear from all my gushing blog posts and Instagram pictures, I didn’t regret it one bit.
I fell in love with Prince of Wales Island and its people while I was there, so much that I found myself contemplating if I could see myself living there. It’s funny – I lived in New York City for eight years, but now I am starting to think that I might be suited to small town life. On Thursday night, when I went to the Craig School talent show, I couldn’t get over how all the kids knew Stacey, my host. I loved how POW Island is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and its an anomaly if you see someone at the grocery store that you don’t know.
However, the grocery store is actually the one thing that made me say no, I probably couldn’t live in Prince of Wales Island. As little as I care about fashion, I don’t think I could live someplace where product selection is so limited. I don’t necessarily need to live by a mall, but I like being able to order things online and have a ton of choice in whatever I need. For example, in Colorado, I haven’t been able to find the Cabot Cheddar Shake that I used to love (actually, I would get it in Vermont!), but I can order it online and have it delivered to my door. I would miss that if I went to live on Prince of Wales Island, and unfortunately, I think I’m too materialistic to give that kind of convenience up. But there are other small towns with wonderful people and gorgeous beauty, that aren’t quite so isolated – and being in Alaska opened my eyes to the fact that I might actually love living someplace like that.
It’s so easy to stay in your comfort zone and do what you always do, but this trip made me remember how important it is to step outside my comfort zone and do something different – and just how much value can be gained from doing that. My trip to Alaska made me really reconsider what I thought I knew about myself. I thought I was someone who hated rural areas, and yet I absolutely loved the isolation of Prince of Wales Island and how it forces you to interact more with everyone around you. Instead of hating the woods like I did as a kid, I found myself appreciating the beauty of every tree and hill. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to take that amazing trip to Prince of Wales Island, and I am guessing that I’ll make it a priority to go back again for a future vacation. That was truly one of the best vacations of my life, and I can’t believe that I even considered skipping this trip in order to stick with the comfort of tradition. (It seems like this was a trend, as my friend Theodora also broke her multi-year Memorial Day weekend tradition to take some much-needed time to herself.)
I know that I just moved, which already is a big change, but I think I need to practice stepping outside my comfort zone a bit more. Rather than sticking with what’s traditional and safe, I want to get back to challenging what I think I know about myself. When I first started running, that was a challenge to musical-theater-kid-Laura, and I miss the surprise of learning something new about myself and seeing how I’ve changed over the years. We all change throughout our life, and I think it’s important to continue experimenting so we recognize what’s changing and can grow with those changes.