Looking Inward: The Bright Side of Life

Emily Russell

Sun Star contributor

The night before it happened, we sang the song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” from the Monty Python movie, “The Life of Brian.” Then the next day broke, and so did we. This was my third serious relationship, but the first one that I hoped would be my last. When you have that kind of hope in your heart, it’s hard not to feel completely devastated and lost. Luckily, NPR had heard the news and, within a few hours, had posted an article on breakups and the science behind moving on.

One of the article’s main arguments was that those who talked about their breakups were able to process the breakup far better compared to those that kept their thoughts and feelings inside. Although this point did not surprise me, I took the advice quite seriously and dialed nearly every friend that I felt comfortable crying on the phone or in person to.

The talking has helped immensely. Over the last week, I’ve cried just as many tears of joy over the friends and support I have as I’ve cried tears of sorrow. Yet, as the article points out, there is no quick cure for a broken heart. Moments that would have made a huge smile spread across my face have instead left me feeling lost.

Never before have I wished the snow to stop falling until I no longer had a partner to admire it with. It seems wrong that the world would offer so much beauty and serenity in such a tragic and turbulent time for me. I moved to Alaska two and a half years ago in search of this snow, in search of a place and of a people that longed for its long and unforgiving winters. What I found when I moved here was a new home, a new school, a new life. And him.

We lived in the same housing, we were in all of the same classes, and he was even dating one of my roommates. We were meant to be the best of friends, and soon enough, the best of partners. He was one of my first friends and quickly became my new family in Alaska. Because we started out as friends, our relationship was based on more than lust or romantic love, it was based on respect and shared values. We were culinarily compatible, intellectually equal and most importantly we could make each other laugh.

Looking on the bright side of life, all of those things are still true. In the hours that followed our breakup we cried a whole lot, but we also cooked a wonderful meal, played a gripping game of cribbage and, when the tears ceased, we could both not stop smiling for the time that we had together.

In my two and a half years here in Alaska I’ve been lucky enough to explore and embrace this state, often times with him. We dipnetted on the Kenai and Copper Rivers. We floated the Delta River on a caribou hunt. We traveled to McCarthy and hiked out onto a glacier and up to an abandoned mine. We traveled to Kodiak once and to Girdwood countless times. We skied on the Chena River in Fairbanks, out to Healy Lake in Delta Junction and along Colorado Creek within the White Mountains. We picked berries wherever we could find them and climbed to the top of every mountain or dome that we had our sights on.

So what now? Well, for me, I’ll make a new beginning for myself here in Fairbanks while he travels the world in search of himself and success in skiing. We’ll both keep hiking, fishing, berry picking and traveling. Our friendship remains a certainty, but what remains unknown is what the future will hold for the two of us. I’m choosing to look on the bright side.

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