TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Norris Pavala will soon be finishing
his service in the Marine Corps. He aims to attend school in Seattle
to become a computer hardware analyst.
To me, the Marine
Corps is a smaller representation of the world. If you just look at
it, it's just normal, everyday kids, trained to be Marines.
It's hard to compare (Alaska). I think Hawaii would understand,
because in Alaska, yes it's part of the United States, but we've
always felt like we're a part of the “Lower 48.” We always say
“Lower 48” because we include Hawaii in our plight. I'm sure Hawaii
feels the same way we do.
Anchorage, it's the biggest city
(in Alaska.) I think it's up to 300,000 people now. I was there my
I remember laughing when California had a snow
storm and they're like “put on your jackets. It's going to be 60
degrees.” And we're up there in single digits like, “Can we have
60-degree weather right now.”
Now, 60 degrees is chilly to
me. It's tough when I go back. I went back about 2 years ago. My mom
opened the door for maybe a split-second and a cold breeze came
through. It felt like Death's hand just came and grabbed me. I felt
this chilling embrace. I crunched up and yelled at my mom to close
the door. It was only a split-second, but I thought I had died.
Before joining the Marine Corps, I was born and raised there.
What's funny is, when I would go to warm up my car, I would just go
outside in shorts and a t-shirt. I would run outside barefoot in the
snow and ice to warm up my car. I'd be shivering, but I could take
Well, thanks to Sarah Palin, everyone thinks we talk in
a Canadian accent, but we really don't ... at all. I actually looked
it up. Somebody asked what kind of accents we speak in Alaska. Some
person said, “Well, my son came back from Alaska with his wife and
they speak Canadian so they must all speak Canadian.” No.
of people will ask me if there are a lot of Eskimos up there. The
first thing I say is, “Alaskan Natives.” And “Yes, but there are a
lot of Caucasians as well.”
During the snowy seasons, you can
make up driving lanes on the roads. A four-lane road will turn into
a three-lane road. My friends and I would be so excited for fresh
snow and we'd be the first ones driving into it. We were like, “Yes,
we make up the roads.” That's also how we'd know if someone is new,
because they'd start driving on the sidewalk.
Of course I
miss my family but that's a given. I miss when the snow is setting
in and it's falling down. Everything is all white but you can still
see the mountains and it's dead silent. I miss how you can smell the
air and everything around you.
I took a personality test for jobs,
and my scores were hilarious. I answered all these questions and my
scores were realism, 40. Cool, ok. Investigative, 42. Ok, that
sounds like me. Then social, 2, and I was like, “What?”
middle name. It's not boring, it's awesome. It's N.P., no problem.
I'm looking forward to being older than 25. You start
meeting people that are been-there, done-that, kind of people.
For me, I kind of realized that video isn't something that I could
get into as much as I thought, but more as a hobby and doing things
on my own. Working for somebody else, and creating what somebody
else wants, I don't know about that. Creativity is all in the eye of
the beholder. So, for a job I'm probably going for something more
It's been a hell of a ride, but I'm glad I did
This is how I think of it when I get out. I want to start
seeing the sights and traveling more. I've been wanting to go to New
Zealand for 2 years. I wanted to do a solo hike there. If not there,
I went to New York City once and I went to that
park in the middle. I saw that they can pretend to be in the woods
and then you look to the right and there's a building.
don't really place myself in these names, these brackets, these
labels. I just live.
Article and photo by USMC Cpl. D. J. Wu
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