It is here I find myself waiting for more hours than I want to count, to catch an airplane to my next destination. It is a Bar/Restuaurant/Motel minutes away from the Anchorage Airport. It is called "The Piper". Based upon the proximity to the airport I assume the name refers to the ubiquitous Piper Cub Air Craft seen all over the area. They have a free shuttle to and from the Airport, so rather than sit at the terminal I can pretend I am here for other reasons than just to catch a plane. The men at the bar are joined by the female bartender watching a televised poker game like it was the Super Bowl.
"Go ahead... Do it... Do it" they yell to a woman on screen who is hesitant about going all in on a Texas Hold em' game. In my mind I have made the comparison of this scene to the television show Northern Exposure so many times it is no longer relevant.
In a gender bending version of "Cheers" a lady walks in and everyone at the bar yells "Dawn". I am assuming that's her name but I am so bored, tired and fuzzy from travel it could be the time of day. Alaska is beautiful but still under the overcast blanket of winter, at least that is the weather today. The conversation buzzes with the notion that things are changing. They talk about tourist season coming soon. That must be what they call clear weather up here. A man who seems to be in charge talks about opening the patio to "The Piper" in a couple of weeks. I can see through fog coated windows there is an outside area to this establishment. I have a heavy sweater on and I am comfortable inside, but I am trying to imagine what it would be like dining here "al fresco". There are 15 video screens surrounding The Piper, and all are tuned to a different sports activity.
At this point a native enters the bar. Indian, Eskimo, Inuit, Yupick I am not sure which is politically correct but she carries a display box of jewelry for sale. I ask her if this is her artwork and she says yes.
"The Earings" she says, "I make when my kids are asleep at night." I ask her how many kids she has and she tells me, two boys. I have two sons myself, I say. This turns into a story of her life. It is a great story of wanting girls and having boys, but assured that it is ordained by the powers that control the universe and all in it. She is blessed with two boys, but her sister had a boy and a girl. Some how that is a source of wonder for her as her sister only wanted boys. I buy a pair of Earings from her as a royalty payment for someday using this beautiful story she has told. She is gone and the bar begins to fill with locals.
I do not hear talk of politics. The patrons of The Piper seem unaware that a primary has even taken place today. No one is talking of the death of Prince or the settlement of his estate. I hear conversations about the arrival of "Sherry", the "late shift" bartender who is very popular with the men at the bar. There is talk of how a prize halibut was ruined when someone tried to prepare it Cajun style. There are 35 people in the bar and I realize there must be an exponential number of stories involving these people to a multiple power. I am a strange fish in a strange sea but simple passing through. The bar is beginning to get crowded with locals who fall into a pattern that I am not a part of. The longer I stay the more I realize that like Dorothy said, "I am not in Kansas anymore."
I ask for my check. I pay my bill and I swim back into the more familiar stream of the airport.
My flight seems to be moving backward and time is creeping by.
As you were,