In a matter of weeks, I will be leaving the place wherein I have worked on and off for the past 5 years. I’ve developed significantly during this time, both professionally, emotionally, and socially. Some of that is attributable to the place itself: located beside a beautiful and cold 400 ft deep (in spots) glacially formed lake, nestled into the Sierra Nevadas, a wilderness area located next door, surrounded by rocky moraines dense with pine. Bears bumble through and must be chased away, raccoons nest periodically beneath the cabins until captured and relocated, squirrels and chipmunks and mice propagate exponentially and go on daily raids throughout all the cabins, scurrying frantically about on forays for cookies (until we set traps that slaughter large amounts of them; something I’m going to work the rest of my life trying to karmically repay). Most of my development, however, is due to the people that I have worked, drank, hiked, and lived with. A seasonal gig, most people come and go, except for those who work there year-round. But bonds are formed even with the seasonal workers that are there for 2 months. People come from all over, from all kinds of different backgrounds, to work here in California in the mountains. Some people have never gone to college, some are waiting to attend grad school, a few have retired from their professional careers and are just looking to keep busy and have some fun.
The work itself has been trying, both physically and managerially. The organization of the place is haphazard, and the pay isn’t good. But the friendships, experiences, and the discovered inner strength and capability have proven to be invaluable. This last year, I’ve already been spiritually and mentally half out the door, and have only been staying on to save up the moolah in readiness for departure and further exploration. But I don’t regret any of the time and effort I’ve spent here. I don’t regret the terrible emotional experiences I’ve been put through here, the deaths and the drama and the loneliness. I don’t regret the vast number of bathrooms that I’ve cleaned, nor the hernia I’ve gotten surgery for, nor the vast amounts of alcohol that I’ve filtered through my liver.
I met my girlfriend here—something I never expected to occur in a seasonal gig where most people my age come through just to party and have multiple fleeting, shallow relationships. I had no expectations of forming a lasting relationship here, and it was a pleasant surprise to have met her here, of all places. Without searching, without expectation, without the modern quest for the Holy Woman: bars and clubs and on-line sites and speed dating.
Prior to working here, I’d worked a string of office jobs, where I filed stuff, answered phones, sorted mail, input data into the computer, and played Yahoo! dominoes and was bored out of my skull and hated all of it, even though I was paid decent. I thought of work as something to despise and endure. I used to use all of my sick days whenever I got them. Now if I use more than a few hours of sick leave in a year, it’s a surprise. I lift 80 lb buckets by myself. I take a 15 minute lunch break and work over 8 hours. And it isn’t necessarily that my work is gratifying. It’s often stressful and sheer grunt work. It’s simply that I’ve discovered that I like to work hard, I like to keep busy, I like to manage things, maintain organization, look at the bigger picture, see the beneficial result of my efforts. I like using tools, installing hardware, figuring out how to fix problems. I like physical labor, and getting down into the midst of things, working beside my workers, getting to know people and what makes them tick. I also like sitting down and looking at how to change things for the better, and creating a plan of action and a design to implement increased environmental and social benefit.
I’m proud of the changes that I’ve implemented during my time here: I changed over all of our cleaning solutions to non-toxic homemade solutions; I initiated a food-waste composting program; I alerted the head honcho to a number of problems I saw amongst management and with the general communication between management and staff; and a number of smaller little organizational stuff.
So saying goodbye to this place, I feel good, I feel that I’ve taken what I’ve needed for that time in my life, and that this has been a wonderful stepping stone to the future. So stepping into the future, I am confident. I am positive. And I am ready for change.