Earth Day Pt. 3: Fairbanks New and Old

Fairbanks is a town that calls itself a city.  There’s old Fairbanks and new Fairbanks. Old Fairbanks is the Immaculate Conception church by the river and the Sears where mothers smoked while picking bonnets for their newborns, the Foodland supermarket and the downtown full of drunks, the abortion clinic with their weekly protest, a wave of picket signs and cars driving by, wooping and hollering. Old Fairbanks is the villagers coming in for a misdemeanor on the weekend and getting obliterated, crawling on the sidewalk in the sharp daylight past children headed to a candy store, past teenagers just getting out of the all-night movie theater. Ice festivals and fireworks attempting beauty in a fifty below sky. The archealogy university holding a conference about a new research site. The ice dogs playing a hockey game and only seven fights occurring in three periods, with attendees later complaining it was tame. Railroad tracks and backroad disasters and all the churches and bars competing for the soul of some poor fool crazy enough to try living up here year-round.
   New Fairbanks is different but the same as anywhere else. Coffee huts and corporate chain stores and people doing yoga. So many trucks with tatooed sides. So much meth in North Pole. A purple haired woman scrambling through a brown dumpster. She is draped in leather. She wants to find copper wire or a credit card or anything that will produce an income. She is a hard worker. She is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. There are military men stationed up in the ice box but missing Georgia, angry. There is the Native Brotherhood and the crimes reported in the Daily Newsminer. There is the fear you are going to have a break in. It permeates you to your skin. You keep a gun handy. Not because of animals like old times past, but your fellow human being creating disorder.
     Sometimes I don’t sleep because I’m afraid someone will break into the house and try to kill me. The scariest thing is not that they will kill, but why. If they wanted the TV and jewelry and someone spooked them, shots fired, panic and escape, I do not worry. There is a humanity there. Cheap, petty, frightened, but humanity all the same. There is no fear there. What keeps me turning at night is there will be no TV to want, no jewelry to desire. The break in will be only to hurt. That is the goal. The pain of others are diamonds in the eyes of the evil. I worry about looking a diamond in such crazed arenas.
    Perhaps I’m overselling the brutality of the place. Humans have been doing bad things to each other for a long time. I guess I just wish this place was an exception. Sometimes,  when the northern lights are waltzing as in they just do, you almost believe it is. 


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