dark-lit bar in Seward, Alaska filled with maroon, leather love seats and a velvet-lined bar-top. Antique liquor bottles are silhouetted by backlights in a showcase that makes up each of the restaurant’s walls. Above the lounge are six apartments, one of which my grandma Marsyd and mom lived in when she was 14 years old before someone started a fire in the hallway and they left the small fish town of Seward for good.
The details of my family’s history in Alaska have fell into the cracks that form in the storylines involving affairs and shame. But I can easily paint an image in my mind of my grandma sitting at one of the leather-buttoned barstools.
It’s 1963 in Seward, a year before two big events: my mom’s birth and the magnitude 9.2 Great Alaskan earthquake. She’s around the age I am now. I imagine her hazel eyes framed with bright blue eyeshadow; a cigarette balancing between her pointer and middle fingers decorated with long, acrylic nails.
A gin martini with two kalamata olives sits on the bar in front of her (my six-year-old self would later call it dirty water)