It seems like only yesterday that I was selling lift tickets, rental gear and ski lessons to guests at Mount Ruapheu. The Southern hemisphere winter season went by in a blink of an eye. Two months later it's amazing how much has changed, yet how so many things remain the same. I am in a different hemisphere, but still working on a mountain doing the same job in the same uniform with just a different logo.
It's a funny story how I ended up in Utah. One day I was at Mt Ruapehu and I overheard my Kiwi co-worker, Carmeny, talking about applying for a visa so she could go to the States and work at a ski resort. I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself upon my return, so I thought it couldn't hurt to apply and have a job lined up when I got back to the States. Within a week, I had two interviews and a job offer at Canyons. Only two months later, I now live with Carmeny, her boyfriend Boulton and Boulton's friend, Will, in a two bedroom apartment in Park City. Who would have ever thought I would end up here?! I certainly didn't! However, that is the beauty of not having a plan and just letting the wind take you to the next destination.
It was a bittersweet feeling leaving New Zealand. Aotearoa had become a home to me. I loved the people, my job and the beautiful countryside. It's hard to leave such a magical place, but all good things must come to an end. During my last three weeks in New Zealand, I travelled around the North and South Island. From Cape Reinga (the northwesternmost tip of the Aupouri Peninsula) to the Mildford Sound (in the South Island), I was able to see the most beautiful things imaginable, including penguins in their natural habitat! Some other highlights of the road trip included hiking the Franz Josef Glacier, tubing in the Waitomo underground caves, hiking to the top of various mountains to see the most spectacular views and stuffing my face with a Fergburger in Queenstown. It was a perfect way to end my time in New Zealand. Unfortunately, the sadness and anxiety kicked in the minute I landed in L.A. The vibe was disappointingly different. People were rude, everyone was in a hurry and the air even felt heavier. Perhaps that was just in my mind, but it definitely felt different.
I spent a week in the Pacific Northwest (Portland and Seattle.) It was great to catch up with old friends, try some new restaurants, drink lattes from my favorite spots; but it was a bizarre feeling to be a visitor in my former life. Coming back to the States has been a difficult transition. However, I can't beat myself up about it because in a short amount of time I've had to say goodbye to all of my NZ friends, do an International move, live out of a suitcase (or 3 in my case) for a month, drive cross country, move to a new city, move into an apartment with new roommates, start a new job and meet a completely new group of people! New is always exciting, but I often forget how stressful the transition period can be. But as Jackie Greer said, it's important not to focus on what you have lost but rather what has been added to your life.
Park City seems like a great place to call home for the time being. I have already met a ton of great people, scoped out my favorite new coffee shop (Atticus) and have done some riding on the slopes of Utah. The best part about being back in the states is that I get to fly home tomorrow and see my family! I can't wait to see MacKenna (my niece) and meet Mason (my nephew.) We are celebrating Christmas quite early this year, but being able to see them is the greatest gift I could ever wish for!
As a chapter of my life comes to an end in 2011, I am quite excited to see what's in store for 2012. As the new year approaches, I am just going to keep an open mind, continue to be flexible and welcome change and new experiences. John Lennon said it best, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand