So then of course I immediately thought: Don't be an idiot, you haven't even set foot on the ground here, and yet you think you own the place. But my heart was leaping and my knees felt weak and there were butterflies in my stomach. And that sense of homecoming never left me, the entire time I was there.
So, after vet school I interned in Sacramento for a year. During that time a friend I had made in Alaska - one who did a lot of travelling for his job for the state - offered to cash in some airline miles to fly me up for my birthday. Since my birthday is in January, this seemed like a good idea - a chance to see if the winters were really as harsh as I'd been told. As it turned out, just before I arrived he was chatting with a former neighbor of his, who was, at that time, the manager of the clinic where I now work. When my friend mentioned that I was coming up, she said, "Bring her by the clinic. We're looking for a new vet." So, at the end of my visit, I went by the clinic, meeting one of the two owners, toured the clinic, and asked when they were looking for a new doctor to start. April, I was told.
"Oh," I said, disappointed. "I won't be done with my internship until August."
"For the right person, we'd wait," he said.
"Should I send you a resume`?" I asked, and he said I should. So I went back to Sacramento and I sent a resume`. They sent me a job offer. [As a handy fringe benefit - or further bizarre coincidence - the director of my internship was personally acquainted with the owners of the Alaskan clinic and were able to give me a personal reference, having worked closely with me for the prior several months.]
But there's a twist.
As it happens, my friend and classmate B - he of Kantishna fame - was less than happy that I'd applied for that particular job. HE wanted that job, it transpired - but there was a catch: He was temporarily unlicenceable in Alaska. Well, even so; it wasn't worth losing a 4-year friendship, I figured. There were other jobs, after all. So I decided I'd call up and decline the offer. So I phoned the clinic. They got the owner on the phone. I identified myself and opened my mouth to tell him, "I'm sorry, but I'll have to decline that offer." The words were there, clear in my head. And I hear my mouth saying, "I'd like to accept that offer."
I break into a sudden cold sweat. My heart takes a sickening lurch in my chest. I feel slightly ill. I can tell I'm still holding a conversation, but I haven't got the faintest clue what I'm saying or hearing. I hang up the phone and think: What the HELL just happened here?
So now of course I'm all freaked out, wondering what I'm going to say to my friend B, wondering who hijacked my lips and how, exactly, that could have happened. I had the word "decline" in my head. I could HEAR it in my mind's ear. And it Just. Did. Not. Come. Out. That. Way.
It took a while, but I finally realized: My friend B couldn't take that job, whether I did or not, because of the licence limitations. And too... I had faith in him. I believed that he would find that the friendship was strong enough to withstand his angst over that, and that he would himself come to see that I was not taking HIS job, not taking any job he was eligible to accept. And I was right. He is, as I believed, too good a guy, and too honest within himself, to believe that I'd taken a job he could have had for himself. We're still good friends..... and he works much nearer his family, which seems to have worked out well for him.
So that's how I came to be in Alaska. Since then I've been to Africa (twice), but I've yet to make it to Australia. I still want to go there, though I've had other travel priorities sneak ahead of it (my birthday in Paris, for instance, or family reunion trips, and I want to go to Scotland, now, as well. And of course, now that I have sheep, New Zealand is calling.) With luck. I'll see them all, one day. My "A" list, expanded. But I still wake up a lot of days, feeling lucky, feeling wonder... because, after all, I actually live in my "A" list. And it's home.