I’m in the City That Movies Are About?!
Nadia Oskolkoff, Anchorage Alaska
Interviewed by: Shelbi Oskolkoff- Campbell
"...but it’s also comforting sometimes to just have that simple life. You need a flannel shirt, a couple pair of jeans; you need a pair of hiking boots and a good winter coat that’s it! You need some moose meat in the freezer and it’s just a real simple life I kind of miss that. Because here we get all caught up in the rat race and it’s exhausting."
Did you ever want to live somewhere else? I always always wanted to get out of Alaska because it was a small town so I actually moved out of Anchorage the day after I graduated high school. I knew that there was something bigger, not necessarily better but different out there and I wanted to progress, I wanted to expand my knowledge, improve and give my children stuff I never had. So to me Alaska seems a little bit backwards, you know not necessarily Anchorage but there’s a part of Alaska that seems really backwards old school, way old school! Like the bowling alleys (Laughs) and the shopping malls! And know where to shop, and it’s kind of depressing…
I grew up in Anchorage Alaska with my three younger brothers, and all their friends and my single mom. I watched my mom work really hard and try to make ends meet so now I appreciate hard work. Helping my mom out made me grow up really fast. And so… (Long Pause) I guess having money isn’t super super important to me because of that. My mom taught me a lot during my childhood, and yet my brothers were just big pains in the butt. They were trouble makers and tried to beat me up all the time, played jokes on me. They were a lot rowdier than me; one of my brothers even put my cat in the dryer! (Laughs)
In Alaska it is dark and cold in the winter months and daylight all day long in the summer months. So in the summer people are outside fishing, hunting, and camping. But in the winter month’s people had drinking problems and drug addictions. We didn’t have a lot of stuff, there wasn’t anything like computers or you know ipods or stuff like that. It was very mina mole. And of course there are a lot of Alaskan Natives around so the culture has a lot of Alaskan Native culture. And because of the culture people are the most important thing, friends are the most important thing, not the stuff you have. Traditions are super important, holiday traditions like fishing, and the Iditarod in February or the ice sculptors contest that we would go to every year.
In high school I worked in a shoe store and so I knew when the natives got a pay check (which was they would get a dividend four times a year.) All the natives would come into Anchorage and they would spend their money, they would go shopping and come in from the villages. So that was really different from California. A lot of the people I saw in anchorage didn’t have money or if you did you would spend it on hunting gear, snow machines, and outdoor toys so to speak. So it’s different, it feels very materialistic in Cali. You have money it’s in the purse you carry or the clothes you wear, or the kind of car you drive… it was very different when I was growing up.
Alaska’s beautiful and very family oriented. I like that, but I didn’t like the long cold winter months, and the high alcoholism and drug issues. But because of it I like to go camping, I’m not afraid of roughing it, I refuse to have problems with alcohol or drugs; Family and friends are important to me, culture as far as you know where you came from. I’m Alaskan Native and so I studied Alaskan Natives in college because that was important to me.
My childhood taught me how to be tuff, taught me how to be strong, because the glass is always half full, it’s never half empty. I always wanted out because of the small town. Any city! There would be songs or Hollywood movies, man I would watch Hollywood movies and think my gosh I wanna go to a city. I didn’t care where, I would hear songs that made me think I just needed to get out of Anchorage; and so the day after high school I moved to Minneapolis Minnesota. I didn’t really have a plan I just knew some friends there so I moved with them.
High school ended and the very next day I was on an airplane. It was scary my first time on a plane, my first time out of Anchorage, even Alaska. I was scared but excited at the same time. That was when I saw billboards for the first time, and freeways. All the commotion cars going back and forth really fast. Tall buildings, you know Alaska doesn’t have tall buildings. I couldn’t believe that they put billboards! I thought the billboards were covering up the scenery.
I left anchorage and experienced a city, then six months later I got super home sick and scared and over whelmed with all the city and all the people and everything so I had to go back. That’s why I think there’s still apart of me that gets over whelmed with too much stimulant, I get where I just need quiet time and down time. I did that a lot in my early twenties I moved out, moved back in then got bored, rested then moved back out again. Then I moved back to Anchorage the second time and I stayed out. I moved to Santa Cruz California and that was the first time I saw the ocean and that was huge for me! I didn’t feel like Minneapolis’s was home, it felt way too different from Alaska but I felt okay with Santa Cruz I felt okay with California I just had to go throw growth. I had to experience being on my own and getting stronger. It took me a little while to leave Alaska for good.
When I first came to San Francisco I just couldn’t believe I was there I mean that’s a big deal! San Francisco was in the movies when I was growing up! I mean are you kidding me I’m here? I’m in the city that movies are about? To me it seemed like a really big deal. And my family always called it Frisco, that’s what Alaskans call it, Frisco that’s old school too. I miss my family first and then I do miss the simple life it is kind of depressing to think about sometimes but it’s also comforting sometimes to just have that simple life. You need a flannel shirt, a couple pair of jeans; you need a pair of hiking boots and a good winter coat that’s it! You need some moose meat in the freezer and it’s just a real simple life I kind of miss that. Because here we get all caught up in the rat race and it’s exhausting.
I think you have to be resourceful to make the best of what you have. Appreciated nature, you know that’s Gods gift to us all that beauty. We didn’t have a Disneyland or anything like that. We didn’t have amusement parks but we had camping we had mountains we could go hiking and we had lakes to swim in so I like if I would of grew up in a city or grew up having stuff handed to me on a sliver platter, I wouldn’t appreciate that stuff like I do now.
Alaska doesn’t have as much diversity; if there’s any culture its Alaskan native culture. I think here in the Bay Area there’s all different kinds of cultures that we get to experience like the Chinese parade, and we have the Japan Town, China Town, Little Italy you know there’s diversity here that there isn’t in Alaska. I moved because there are more experiences available here, I think it’s a better place to raise children more opportunity both for entertainments and academic purposes. There’s more colleges offered here in the lower 48 and I like the diversity, I like being around a bunch of different ethnic groups that’s cool.
Alaska’s a great place it’s full of beauty and it’s got a super good culture. Natives are very gentle people, quiet, slow, you know take your time, don’t rush, its okay sit down have a cup of tea, eat some smoked salmon, you want some smoked salmon? (Laughs) you know so that is comforting to be around I can’t be around it all the time. But it’s a great place; Alaska’s a great and wonderful place.