Larissa and I met in 1997. About a week after I turn 21. Some how independently we both made our way to the small isolated community of Sitka. Located on Baranof Island in the Aleutian chain of Alaska South-East. I headed to Sitka after hearing about it from ‘Aunt’ Maxine (my Auntie in laws Mother) who I had been living with in Coronado, the island like peninsula off San Diego. Maxine’s Son lived in Sitka and so with an adventurous spirit I was off to work the Summer in Sitka (via a blow out holiday in the Bahamas).
Now Sitka is a very small town, and it is on an Island, and it is in the middle of nowhere so it is very easy to make friends and feel right at home. It is the kind of place where everyone knows each other and each others business. Due to this small town convolution, the Daughter of the Girlfriend of the Son of Maxine was moving in with her Boyfriend and so I was offered her room to rent. I gladly accepted as it is always nice to have a place to stay when arriving to a new place. Through this process I somehow developed a welcome party and when I hopped off the plane in Sitka there was a young man holding a sign with a drawing of a smiley faced female with my name underneath it. Word had gotten around that an Aussie girl with long bond hair was coming to town and so this young man Stuart had volunteered himself to pick me up. He introduced himself as a work colleague of the Girlfriend of Aunt Max’s son and so I hopped in the pick-up truck and enjoyed the drive over Japonski bridge to town.
As it turned out, Larissa had been the one who drew the welcome sign, and was there in the welcome party when I arrived at the Sheeatika, the Tlingit owned hotel in the middle of town. Before I knew it I was sitting and having a drink with an amazing vibrant, effervescent young woman with raven curls, laughing eyes and a generous smile…named Larissa.
From that point on Larissa became my best friend. We worked together, lived together, hiked together, danced until dawn together, and sat around bonfires on the beach together in the perpetual evening sunlight of Summer in Alaska. I chalked up 3 (not consecutive) years of Alaska living, and each time I arrived back to Sitka, Larissa would be there, or also about to return. Larissa went on to make Sitka her permanent year round home, and so was there the last Summer I lived in Sitka in 2005. Eight years after the Summer we had first met.
While friendships can weave in and out of your life, Larissa and I have been very lucky to remain dedicated to each other. It takes time and energy to keep in contact, and Larissa is wonderful for that. It helped also that we married our husbands within a few years of each other and then went on to have children the same ages. Larissa’s eldest Child Jasmine is the same age as Maya and Larissa has twins James and Jewel the same age as Elle. Being able to share this coincidence certainly keeps our friendship alive. Besides this though, I just flat out cherish Larissa for her spirit, her positive disposition, her intelligence and her beauty! With Larissa I shared the best times of my young adult life. Together we get to walk down that memory lane, and oh my goodness does it make us laugh! I am holding tightly to the past week we spent together, so glad to have built upon our bond. I feel like I am holding a gem in my heart. My dear friend Larissa!