Sunday, January 17, 2010


January 18, 1985  Friday

Dear Ophelia,
"Well remember I said we were moving to California? Well, Jeff might of got a job in Fairbanks. So one night they told us this and I accepted it and was pretty happy about it. Then another night we found out that he didn't get the job so he said we were going to California. So I got real excited about seeing Dad and Dan and going to San Mateo high. Yesterday and today I said goodbye to all my friends and stuff. 

Well last night they told us that he had another job offer in Fairbanks. Now I find it hard to accept Fairbanks again, but it might not work out. I hope we find out tonight where we're moving cuz my flight to CA is Wed. You see, I was going to go down first and live with Dad and Dan so I could start the semester there. The rest of the family was gonna come down later. I'll give you more info later. 

Well, I've been doing what I said. I use Noxzema antiseptic cleanser and aloe vera gel every day and it works great! The only make-up I wear is eyeliner, mascara, lip gloss and occasionally, eyeshadow. I never wear base. (Yuk). 

My style of clothes is casual and sporty. Every once in awhile I dress up but right now, I have nothing to dress up in. I need to get some more clothes. All I have is school clothes. I need shorts, sweatshirts, good sweaters, t-shirts, socks, Levi's, P.E. clothes, more school clothes (like that) etc. I also need a haircut. 

Cocoa and I get along real good now. She means so much to me. I love her so much. I think she knows it too. I talk to her and she sleeps with me every night and she follows me everywhere. Cocoa's not usually like that. She's a real spooky cat. When strangers come over she runs off. She also runs at loud noises and stuff. Its real easy to scare her away. But I know her so well now. I can always tell when she's going to run or stay. I know how she's going to react to something I do, or what someone else does. I love her so so much. She's a little overweight but she's so so pretty. I never tire of looking at her. I don't know what I'd do without her except cry, cry, cry. I've lived with Cocoa for almost five years. 

Guess what happened last night? Well, Jeff and I were arguing then he got up and I thought he was going to walk out on me so I walked out on him first. Well he said something and I "talked back to him" (defended myself) and he got mad and came after me. Well, he grabbed me and tried to spank me so I tried to get away and I hit back. I kept yelling, "leave me alone" just for something to yell. Mom saw it and tried to pull Jeff away but finally he stopped. Lucky for him he didn't hurt me. 

In a way, I'm glad he did it cuz I know he feels bad about not controlling himself. I just wish mom wasn't affected by our arguing, its not fair to her. I guess I'll have to be more tactful when I argue. That would be nice. I could learn to argue so that I don't get myself in trouble but subtly make the other person feel like a fool. Its just a nice skill to have. 

You know what Joel did? Well he got in trouble for something so he didn't feel like it was fair that only he got in trouble so he told on me for having Josh on the sofa and eating on the floor. I am so mad at him cuz a lot of times I've gotten in trouble for something that Joel's done too and I've never told on him. I can't trust him at all, little tattletale. He never tells on me till he's in trouble then pop, he spills the beans just because he doesn't want to be in trouble alone. Little bastard. I'm really mad at him now. 

Anyway, today was the last day of the semester. Yeah! I've taken all my finals. Tomorrow I'm going to Diamond H to work and ride Nina. I'm also going out Monday and Tuesday. I hope we move to California. I miss Dan. I think his school will be fun. Anyway, I'll write tomorrow. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. I'll miss Alaska, especially Cheri."

I don't think its an accident that Jennifer is fighting with Jeff and Joel. The entire family was living in a presser-cooker. Jeff was being laid-off and was desperately looking for work. The Alaskan economy was sinking into a deep recession. Work was scarce and the value of their condo had dropped below their loan amount. Jennifer's mom and step-dad ended up doing a short-sale on the condo. Jeff never did find a new job in Alaska.

Her parents tried to keep Jennifer and Joel posted on what was happening but it just caused more stress. Jennifer had already learned to live with her legs bent--always ready to land on her feet when her world shook apart around her. But she could only handle so much "not knowing". I think we all handle the stressful event better than we handle anticipating the stressful event!

I still don't know why they bought Jennifer a plane ticket to California when Jeff was applying for jobs in Alaska. They do end up sending her off while they remain in the condo until summer. Joel finishes the school year while Jennifer leaves in the middle and starts a new high school in the middle of freshman year. No wonder she and Jeff have come to blows!!!

Jennifer would like me to write that this physical fight with Jeff was the only one they ever had. It was not his style and not a form of punishment he believed in. It was a hugely stressful time and they were both at the end of their ropes.

I don't think the "signs" of the imminent move were lost on the animals. Jennifer describes Cocoa's sudden interest in following her around. This is the cat that Jennifer got in Colorado. Then they moved to California together and then they moved to Alaska together. After each move, Cocoa would hide under Jennifer's bed for the first few months. Cocoa was easily stressed and the moves took a toll on her every time.

Jennifer's mom had already packed up most of Jennifer's room and sent it to California. Cocoa knew what was happening. She followed Jennifer around to make sure that she wasn't left behind!

Jennifer has one last heartbreak to deal with in Alaska. She didn't write about it in the diary. She had worked her way up to head groom for Debbie at Diamond H ranch. She was a dedicated worker and that wasn't lost on Debbie. A few days after Jennifer's parents told Jennifer that they were moving, Debbie came over to their condo with presents for Jennifer.

This was an awkward evening. Debbie brought Jennifer a new helmet and riding breeches. Jennifer was thrilled, they were beautiful. Debbie also came bearing news. She wanted Jennifer to travel with her to all the horse shows that coming summer. She was planning a tour of the Lower 48 with her big camper/horse trailer. Jennifer would be the groom and she would also show the Pone all over the U.S.

This was the offer of a lifetime in Jennifer's mind. She was overwhelmed and proud and humbled all at the same time. She was also ripped apart with grief. While she stood there, her parents informed Debbie that Jennifer was moving to California in less than a month. Jennifer could barely stomach the look of disappointment and (Jennifer imagined) betrayal on Debbie's face.

Debbie was shocked. She had seen Jennifer before Christmas and Jennifer hadn't mentioned that she was moving the next month! Of course, that was because Jennifer didn't know she was moving in a month. Debbie didn't have a lot of money. She looked at the expensive gifts and said Jennifer could keep them anyway. Jennifer saw the regret in Debbie's eyes that she had spent so much money on a girl who was leaving.

Jennifer did feel a pang of bitterness at this show of regret. She had worked her tail off for Debbie for free riding that had never worked out for Jennifer. She paid for her lessons and didn't get to ride much otherwise. Debbie said she was perfect to ride and show the Pone, but only if Jennifer paid to lease the horse. Jennifer accepted the breeches and the helmet because, deep down, she knew she had earned them.

After Debbie left, Jennifer's mom had a long talk with her about Debbie's proposal. She explained that she wouldn't have let Jennifer go anyway. She also thought that Debbie had been taking advantage of Jennifer and the other grooms. She didn't think it was safe to travel the U.S. with the horse trainer. She didn't believe that Debbie would watch out for Jennifer and she thought that Debbie would work her too hard. At the Palmer horse show, Jennifer was up at 5am and in bed at midnight every day of the show.

So Jennifer wailed and cried over the lost opportunity. She felt horrible for letting the trainer down. She was angry that they had to move. But she also knew that her mom was right. Debbie's proposal was not in her best interests. In a way, it was easier on Jennifer to move than to refuse the offer.

Jennifer dealt with the upheaval in her life without her grades dropping. The adults in her life assumed she was fine. And she was fine. What choice did she have? She got up every day and put one foot in front of the other. She controlled what she could, her grades and her skin care regime. Jennifer was fine--but fine and secure are not the same thing. Jennifer is about as secure as her cat, Cocoa.

Cocoa hiding!

358 miles north of Anchorage
Temps range from 60 below zero to 90 above zero
Called the "Golden Heart of Alaska"
Gold was discovered in Fairbanks in 1902
Japan, Europe and the East Coast can be reached by plane in 8 hours or less
The Fairbanks metropolitan area has a population of about 100,000
The Fort Knox goldmine produces 1200 ounces of gold per day
The University of Alaska, Fairbanks is a major employer
Fairbanks is the transportation hub of the "interior"

1 comment:

  1. Whenever we are packing to leave town our dogs follow us around the house at our heels. They know that when they see suitcases, they are either going to be left at Grandma's house or, if they are lucky, they get to go camping with us. I'm not a cat person, but I'm surprised that Cocoa acted the same. I always thought of cats of aloof and disinterested.

    If all that moving around was stressful on the cat, it had to be stressful for you too.


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