This school has given me very many of my firsts: first friend, first dose of mischief and the first and last girl. Alaska was the most enigmatic and mysterious person I have ever met. Every element of her being fascinated me, from her smell of cigarettes, vanilla and sweat, her creativity when planning pranks on our headmaster, her surprising ability to succeed in pre–calculus, and her obsession with strawberry wine, which we had to drink in secrecy. The first time I had a real conversation with her she told me the last words of Simon Bolivar, which I had never heard before “Damn it, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth! When I asked her what the labyrinth was, she told me that that was the mystery. Is the labyrinth living or dying? Are we all trying to escape the world, or the end of it? This quote completely juxtaposes my Great Perhaps, I looked to seek and she looked to escape. After she died I found a note in one of her books in her ‘life long library’, a collection of books that she had bought from garage sales that she had been accumulating ever since she was young. She had written that the only way out of the labyrinth was straight and fast.
Alaska taught me to live in the moment and not to plan ahead. She said “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia, you spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining the future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present. ” (John Green, Looking For Alaska) I know people have whispered among themselves wondering whether Alaska’s death was a suicide or a pure accident. I have been wondering the same.
People who do not know Alaska may see her death as selfish, seeing the people close to her terribly heart broken. I have to clear her name. When Alaska was 8 years old, she watched her mother having a seizure and pass away. Alaska was frozen in fear and did not call 911 and she never forgave herself. The day Alaska died, was the anniversary of her mother’s birthday. Alaska had been drinking and I remember her waking up in the middle of the night cursing and crying, telling us that we had to distract our headmaster so she could drive to her mother’s grave.
She crashed into a truck on her way without any attempt to turn the car. I realize now the labyrinth was not life or death, it was suffering, doing wrong and having wrong things happen to you. How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering? Alaska chose straight and fast, whether it was on purpose or not. I knew Alaska for one hundred and thirty – six days, but I do not think anyone truly knew her. Her death threw me into the realization that I have always been trapped in a labyrinth of suffering.
Before I got to this point, I thought for a long time that the way out of the labyrinth was to pretend it did not exist, but to build a small, self – sufficient world in the back corner of the endless maze to pretend that I was not lost, but home. I hated Alaska and I hated everything for a while after she was gone. I hated myself for being a coward and not stopping her from leaving that night. It all just felt so terribly unfair, all of it, the inarguable injustice of loving someone who might have loved you back, but can not due to deadness.
I loved Alaska because she showed me both my labyrinth and my Great Perhaps – she had proved to me that it was worth it to leave my minor life for grander maybes, and now she is gone and with her my faith in perhaps. Alaska is still teaching me a lesson; the only way out of the labyrinth is to forgive. I wish Alaska had realized this too before it had to end this way. Her mother forgave her; just as I am sure Alaska forgives all of us now. You see “we are all going, nothing can last, not even the earth itself. (John Green, Looking For Alaska) The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. So when you stopped wishing things would not fall apart, you would stop suffering when they did. So Alaska, I have some last words for you, Thomas Edison’s, “It’s very beautiful over there. ” I do not know where there is, but I believe it is somewhere and I hope it is beautiful. After all of this I will learn no more last words because I know so many, but I will never know hers.