Over the past couple of weekends, Hunter and I have been lucky enough to have friends from Dillingham visit.
On the Thanksgiving weekend, Todd & Michelle came over. They spent a few days in Anchorage, reveling in its urban glory, before driving down to spend the holiday with us. Last weekend, Alan & Sharon (former Dillingham residents) came down from Fairbanks for a couple of days of moose scoping and gallery touring.
At the end of Alan & Sharon's trip, I realized that most former Dillingham residents, men and women, suffer a degree of PDSD or Post Dillingham Shopping Disorder. Two years ago, it would never have occurred to me to take my house guests on a tour of the local grocery stores to point out great things on the shelves. Now, Safeway ranks next to the Homer Spit on the list of 'must see' local attractions for my bush-living friends. I would have bought the weekend paper for its articles, not its advertising inserts.
With each set of guests we talked about shopping. Food shopping especially. For Todd & Michelle who are still in Dillingham, we talked about what foods they were bringing home and the state of their two local grocery stores. With Alan & Sharon, who left Dillingham a couple of months before us, we talked about the shopping habits we developed. Habits such as food shopping every day, buying 16lbs of broccoli because "it was cheap and fresh" and eating waay to much of things like cheese, pork products and sausage. We bought the Saturday paper and poured over the advertising inserts like six year-olds reading a Toys-R-US catalogue before Christmas.
I've also been getting e-mail from friends who left Dillingham around the same time we did. In each of those messages is a note about how cheap and abundant things are. More than one friend e-mailed me a story about going out for dinner and taking a second look at the bill. Not because they felt over-charged but because they felt like something substantial was missing from the tab. More often than not, they boast about their grocery store - its proximity, breadth of goods and relative freshness compared to Dillingham.
Alan & Sharon have been gone from Dillingham for about a year and a half. While I see some signs of recovery from their PDSD, it's not complete. Their first stop on the way into Homer to see us? Safeway.