When I moved to Alaska, there was a pair of rubber boots waiting for me. My boyfriend at the time, who had moved up six weeks before while I stayed back to finish my job, had bought them, and they were standing up on the tiny kitchen table when I entered the cabin we first lived in. These weren’t any rubber boots, but a special brand that almost everyone in the small coastal town I’d moved to seemed to own: comfortable, durable, up to the knee…the kind commercial fishermen wore. My boyfriend, who had spent a few summers in Alaska, had encouraged me not to buy a lot of clothes and gear before our move; he said that with certain things, you wanted to spend a little time in Alaska to find out the best brand and kind. These boots—called XTraTufs—were obviously the kind everyone wore, and they made me feel like a kid. I could wade through shallow streams and splash through puddles. I could traipse across the beach without worrying about getting wet. I wore them for clamming and while setting a gill net for salmon across the beach at low tide. They were the key to exploring my new home and beginning to feel like I could fit in. And they felt like a crucial tool for the kind of modern, self-reliant lifestyle I was striving for. Now, a decade later, while accomplishing practical tasks such as getting the vegetable beds ready for another short, cool growing season, I long for things that are glamorous. I long for opportunities to wear the types of shoes I never get to here: sexy heels, strappy sandals.

Miranda Weiss, Homer, Alaska

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