After a year on Ice I am still scared of driving in snow and I still get cold in positive temperatures. This makes me wonder if the whole thing was a long dream.
But really, after over a month off the Ice, I am finally ready to tell you how great isolation is. Maybe that is not what you expected and honestly towards the end of my Pole experience I cannot describe to you how ready Max and I, plus most of our friends, were to finally get back to the real world. Now that I am here, there are some things I really miss. For instance, I never realized how many words people say, and how little meaning some of those words hold. I don’t mean this to offend anyone, but after so long with so much silence and meaningful conversation, it is weird to come back to small talk and introductions.
The options! Max really enjoyed walking through grocery stores. I think that was his favorite thing. I like it, but sometimes I am still a little overwhelmed with how many options there are for very simple things (ex. shampoo). I don’t think it is necessary. Although I extremely enjoy being able to pick the food I eat and drink real organic milk.
The little things that stuck out to me within a week of returning (I kept a list):
Long showers- Different than I expected. After being so used to two minute showers, I now continue to take short showers. I dreamed of a long shower or bath, but now I get in and I get bored! Kind of funny that I still feel rushed without having a time limit.
My window is not my freezer- I noticed this when Max and I got a box of ice cream bars in NZ. Super silly, but in our minds we bought the ice cream bars and were going to put them in our hostel window in Nelson! So then we tried to each eat two bars and ended up throwing some away. Frozen windows really come in handy.
Stop and smell the roses- It was not until I got back to NZ that I realized the thing I missed most was being able to walk to destinations (more than just a few hundred yards). I was raised in a town where you can walk or bike everywhere and I was used to that. It was so great to walk and move my legs again. Plus, it was the spring and there were so many beautiful flower gardens all over town.
The real world is still cold- People keep commenting how cold it is in Oregon and then adding a comment like, “well I bet it is not cold for you” and “Are you hot in this weather?”. Nope, it is still cold. We just dressed much warmer down there. Plus, it is a very dry cold at Pole and so it is completely different than this.
Dark to light in one day?- I expected the normal daylight schedule to feel really weird after the five months of darkness and five months of light plus the month of sunset and month of sunrise. I hardly even noticed because the daily sunsets seemed so normal. The thing I did miss was not knowing the stars like I did at Pole. The stars moved during the winter, but you could almost always see them and I knew many of the clusters and bright stars. Thanks you, Robert for our astronomy lessons. 🙂
Fashion- The fashion has changed, which always happens, but to not see any of it for a year it feels really different. Not in a good way or bad way, just different. Think about it, no T.V. no commercials, nothing like that. Media really does have huge impact on what we think of as “in style” and we noticed that upon arriving in Hawaii.
Stuff- Why did we spend so much money on a storage unit to keep our stuff??? I had plenty of clothes for a whole year away, and now I am overwhelmed by how many clothes I have in storage. We could have gotten rid of our couch, beds, dressers and clothes and would have saved $1,500. It is so easy to keep collecting things and never get rid of them. My advise is to really think about what you “need” before a trip and only keep those things. Makes things a lot easier and cheaper upon returning.
MY BIGGEST RANT OF ALL!- Technology. It is constant. I told myself I would not give in and get a smart phone since I enjoyed not having one for a year, but there is no way around it! I don’t know how people lived without google maps on their phone! I am sure I could get maps of every location, but it seems unnecessary and unavoidable to go without technology in our generation. I do appreciate the year I had without a single cellphone being on the table during meals. That was one of the best parts.
All in All. . . I spent way longer avoiding this post than I thought I would, but it was hard to think about coming back without complaining too much. There are pluses to both life styles and now that I have been home for a while I feel like I can truly appreciate both ways. I do feel more likely to do another winter than I did at the end of the season. Max and I are both trying to figure out what we want to do next, looking for a place to live and trying to find jobs. We have some figuring out to do!
*** If you are in the Corvallis, Oregon area, Max and I are doing a talk about our Antarctica experience at the Corvallis Public Library. It is on February 22nd, at 6:30. Please check the library website for details.***