Juneau, My Two-Faced Love.

Southeast Living, 2018
By Meg Hartley

“Chicken Yard Park,” Meg Hartley 2011

Living in Juneau Alaska is akin to staying in a dysfunctional relationship. Just when you feel alone, neglected, restless, and totally dismayed at the thought of your love; and even start to panic because there is literally no road out – it’ll turn on the charm, totally embodying everything that made you fall in love to being with.

As if Juneau could just sense you thinking about leaving, months of rain-meets-snow that soak to the bone and sting the skin fade away; replaced with sights of sun-soaked stunningly green mountain peaks. After barely catching precious light before darkness poured into your very soul, you are no longer pining for brightness. Now for months your love’s light will never leave your side. Nights once spent binge-watching transform into romantic lakeside cabin adventures, and bonfires on the beach with the amazing personalities that your love attracts when they finally reveal their warmth.

Juneau has always insisted on only showing its achromatic side for half the time you’re together. Grey on the ground as cold as their shoulder, grey in their constantly weeping skies, even grey consuming their majestic peaks, hiding their glory. And just when you start searching for a more suitable life partner – they become a colorful and vivid sight that you can’t stop staring at.

Your love is now a kaleidoscopic projection of various ravishing intrigues; plank-covered hikes through scenery so beautiful it’s surreal, lush forests with bears, meadows filled with wildflowers of every hue, and ferry rides to quirky towns filled with some of your favorite future memories.

All of a sudden there are twice as many people spending time with tuo amore, dousing its once cold shoulder with attention and admiration. As you walk down the familiar Main Street of your love, right into their heart – a floating city of fans loom ahead, filing in. They buy trinkets made in China and poke the loyal locals with unnecessary umbrellas, asking about the elevation when they arrived by boat.

You exchange glances with others who know the complicated nature of this love. You are enamored with Juneau for all that it hides, as well as the things that it boasts. The contrast of your experiences are what make you so close, it’s the kind of love where even if you do leave – you can never quite leave it behind. After all, it’s only when you’ve trudged through the depths of someone’s darkness, that you can truly appreciate their light.

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