As a child, I was always drawn to those corners of the globe you cannot conceive of. And I mean conceive literally: you can’t birth the places, can’t push them pink and distinct and squalling into your imagination. You can’t people them, can’t detail the fauna or the flora, can’t do more than block in the vague outlines of an alien topography: Here there be…. nothing.
It’s seductive, that nothingness. It’s the underside of your tongue, the backs of your knees, the space between your liver and your lungs. It’s all the secrets you keep from yourself, the furthest assay into your darkest places.
Alaska was one of those corners, for me. I’d trace the outlines on the globe. I’d review certain facts. There was more coastline than anywhere else in the world. Its islands stole past the international dateline, wrapping around until today turned into tomorrow. There were peaks and cold and long, white stretches of nowhere. I imagined myself driving there, hopping into a car and cruising up the long, cold backbone of Canada until I spilled over into naught.
In real life, I boarded a plane. I ate bad peanuts, drank tomato juice chilled to the temperature of cold feet. The cabin was close and stale and Canada stayed sunk in clouds. Past midnight, I arrived. It was hard to imagine but easy to walk into, the city of nothing, everything alight with sun.