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December 24, 2021: Looking in on the Inner Circle

The inner circle, defined, is a group of individuals who embody the concept of close-knit community.

They know and congregate around one another. They are the ones that those outside the circle confer with if they want information, advice, or assistance of some kind or another. If, here in Palmer, you ask someone for a referral, they will say, “go and talk to so-and-so.” I’d say that here, the inner circle consists of about a dozen people.

I’ve often joked with Pete that he’s a member of the Palmer inner circle. He’s denies this. He qualified because of his credentials. He’s gregarious, outgoing, and a very social guy. He also knows a large portion of the citizenry because, being a teacher, he’s a public figure. Add to this, he’s orchestrated the every other year political debates at the college and is also on the VCRS recycling board. He also has organized two competitive trail rides and is a member of the Backcountry Horsemen of Alaska.

I watched Pete grow in stature over the years, and yes, felt considerable envy. I wasn’t as fortunate as he was – I didn’t get hired on at Mat-Su College after we arrive here, and so watched my teaching career go down the tubes.

This year, my inner circle stance changed. No, I am not, nor will I ever be, inner circle in the Palmer community. I’m too much of an introvert. But I am now where I want to be in that I’m now on nodding terms with those in the circle, meaning that I’m on the periphery.

This is because of my involvement with the Bright Lights Book Project. In order to keep the program alive, I’ve had to make connections with most of the inner circle individuals and their friends. I have, to this end, spent hundreds of hours on the phone, making small talk, and then making big talk. I have to time when I am going to cut to the chase. And so now, yeah, me, I’m the book lady/book shlepper/book whore/keeper of the books/outreach coordinator. The title I use is dependent on who I’m talking to. For instance, if I’m talking with Mike M. who runs Big Cabbage Radio, I am the outreach coordinator. If, say, I’m talking to my friend Becky, who describes herself as being an “adventure whore,” well then, I’m the “book whore.”

As I’ve often said, I would have most liked just being a salvager/stocker, with someone else taking on the role of outreach coordinator. This was not to be, although it could someday still happen.

The upside to this is, of course, I have made the acquaintance of some truly amazing people this past year. In fact, tonight I got a call from Mario and Mary who I spent time with at the Senior Center. They called from Arizona to say hello. And earlier today, I heard from Alicia, who is one of the movers and shakers of the local Head Start program. And yesterday, I talked with Amy Pettit who keeps things going at Alaska Farmland Trust. These days, this is all in a day’s work.

The question is, would I, the introvert, want things to be the way they used to be? My answer right now is maybe.

Next: 356. 12/26/21: A Holiday Letter to a Neighbor

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