Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Wedding and the Wilderness

I was a bit shocked when I turned the page in Jennifer's diary. Her last entry was about school being out for the summer. It was addressed to "Ophelia", dated, written in cursive and signed by Jennifer as usual. Her diary has followed a predictable pattern for years.

I turned the page after the June 2nd entry and I see this:

Jen's diary freak-out!


The entry on the left side is undated, written in print and not signed. There are misspelled words and grammatical errors. It has an out-of-breath, desperate feeling to it. This is what she wrote:

"I must stop writting in Diary for awhile till I feel I can keep it up better. The Wedding was beuatifull. I was part of it. Both Families lit a candle together. More about in scrapbook. I am taking care of 3 cats and a dog named George. All Female"

If she didn't make a reference to taking care of more animals, I might wonder if she wrote it at all! It's a bizarre entry and is followed by an entry on the right side of the page which is standard "Jennifer".

Jennifer does not remember what happened or why she stopped writing for most of the summer. There is no scrapbook. She did enjoy the wedding. Here is a photo of the bride and groom right afterward:

Jennifer's Mom and her new husband, Jeff. Newlyweds! 6-18-1983

Jennifer met her new step-sister, Angela, at the wedding. She thought Angela was one of the most beautiful girls she'd ever seen up close. She liked her right away, she looked up to her but she was also intimidated by her.

Angela seemed like a princess (a nice one) and Jennifer felt like a peasant. She could not see how they would ever relate. Angela was a lot older than Jennifer also. She was 19 years old. Angela had made it to the other side of the puberty divide. Jennifer still had one foot securely planted in childhood and the other was dangling off a cliff.

Angela is a real princess by the way. She won a beauty pageant crown in Minneapolis when she was a young teen. She got to ride a float in a parade and wave to everyone!

It is also possible that Jennifer was sleep-deprived when she wrote her entry. Her first summer in Alaska was difficult. Dan and Christian came to visit. She remembers playing with her three brothers around the condo complex into the evening. She remembers being yelled at by people trying to sleep, "It's two in the morning, shut up!" (stuff like that). It was sunny and they were dressed in shorts playing ball. She could have written the entry in broad daylight in her bedroom at four in the morning...

Sleep is evasive in Alaska in the summertime!

She finally writes again and she writes a lot.

August 22, 1983 Monday

Dear Ophelia,

"Hi, long time no write. I have a lot to say.


We go camping almost every weekend. We went to Mt. McKinley National Park and got within 3 feet of a moose. She was a cow. About 20 minutes later w
e saw 2 twin calves.

For my birthday I got a track bag, 13 dollars, some purple earrings, D and D, Dragonmaster game, a watch pendant from Becky, 3 books
Revolt of the Dwarves, Pillars of Pentegarn and Goodbye California. Dad gave me a stereo (wow) and 13 tapes with a tape holder. I also got a pad of paper of different colors to write letters with matching envelopes.

School starts Augu
st 31, 1983. I got some school supplies and new clothes and a little make-up. I am 13 now and guess what? I started my period August 2nd to August 9th. I will be having it again soon. I have a light flow. I thought it would all gush out at one time. It didn't.

I've been doing a lot of reading. I've saved about $604.00. Pretty good, huh? I get $20.00 a month allowance plus I do laundry for mom.

Jeff and I don't get along really well yet. It's hard to explain but I'm a lot different than his kids and Jeff's a lot different than my dad. I'll write more about it later.

We got a dog named, Josh. He's a black poodle. Really cute. He's a lot like Muffin. Cocoa and Pumpkin and D.B. are fine.


We went to Circle this summer and I paid $10 dollars and rode a really neat horse named, Beaver. We galloped almost the whole hour. He gave me no problems. I really enjoyed myself. Stacia bought a horse named Heesun. He's an Arab, really cute.

Jennifer and the horse, Beaver, riding at the Arctic Circle

I went to Cheri's party (birthday). It was really fun. She got some really neat things. It was overnight.

I got my haircut so its feathered almost to the back of my head. Mom lost her wallet but the police found it. Everything was in it except one dollar.


Christian and I caught minnows and frogs.

The wedding was really nice. I loved it a lot. I met Angela. She's really nice. She gave me the purple earrings. I like Angela a lot. I wrote her a letter about my period. She wrote back right away. She's pretty.

I am going to start cross-country running this year.


I miss Daniel. He came to visit. We fought a little. I miss Dad too. Josh is really neat. I also miss Muffin and Chipper and Becky.

Well, I gotta go so, bye Ophelia, nice to write to you again.

Your friend, Jennifer, Josh, Cocoa, Pumpkin, D.B., Muffie, Chipper."

Jennifer is grateful that they camped so much in Alaska. She did not enjoy the work of camping but she did appreciate the beauty. Her mom and Jeff loved to camp and so did the boys. Joel helped out with all the work but Jennifer resisted. She was sometimes resentful that they were gone every weekend. Jeff just wanted everyone to have a good time and he resented Jennifer's bad moods. Now these are some of her favorite memories!

Jennifer often thought that if her mother hadn't married Jeff, she would have her mom all to herself. Jeff probably entertained similar thoughts!! Re-marriage is difficult--best to get it right the first time whenever possible!

Jennifer's favorite memory that summer was riding the horse. She slapped down her $10 bucks, jumped in the saddle and she was gone for an hour. She rode into the wilderness alone, galloping madly on a horse she just met. She had the time of her life. She had no thoughts for grizzlies, moose or wolves. No thoughts of being bucked off and left lost in the Arctic Circle. Instead, she had the time of her life. To this day, she smiles when she thinks about that ride. Best ten bucks she ever spent!



The General Store at Arctic Circle Hot Springs Resort
Jennifer, her mom, Daniel, Joel and Christian



Jennifer's mom looking cool (literally!)



Warming up in the pool heated by natural hot springs all year long. Arctic livin' ain't so bad!


Jeff in Awesome Alaska!


The Campground
(look at those legs, no wonder she was fast!)


Circle, Alaska
Founded in 1893
It was the largest gold-mining town on the Yukon river (for awhile anyway), population 1000
Today the population is around 100, 75% native Athabascans
The median income for a family is $11,250

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