Home, Sweet Remote Tundra
My plane landed last Saturday night and all 21 passengers aboard the C-17 were met by a couple vans that drove us into town. When I arrived last year, it was bright and white as far as the eye could see. This time, it was completely dark beyond the airfield lights and the glow of town 10 or so miles away (you can see the route on Google Maps).
Saturday is a good day to arrive because you immediately roll into town with the next day off. So Sunday was all brunch, unpacking and reconnecting with folks. Although station population is only about 300/350 right now, there are plenty of familiar faces and it hasn't taken long for me to feel at home. In fact, sitting in an already made up room on an already made bed (my roommate was super good to me) on my first night in town felt really good; like I was in the place I was supposed to be in. It's similar to the feeling I get seeing the Minneapolis skyline for the first time in a long time.
McMurdo is simultaneously a complicated and simple place. It's a bit like a small college for adults in the middle of nowhere with work instead of education; we live in dorms, eat in a cafeteria, there are proportionally more bands than in real life, the local radio station is pretty damn good, even if few people listen, and the blending of social and professional politics is unavoidable. It's not as difficult to imagine life here as you might think, but it can be so damned difficult to navigate some days.
I'm wrestling a bit with how comfortable it feels to be back and disconnected from the rest of the world, almost feeling guilty for enjoying being gone. Surely I'll swing back to missing home in no time and then I can spend energy feeling guilty about spending my limited time here thinking about being somewhere else. Never satisfied with being satisfied, right?
The sun is shining, but the season and the hills mean it's only indirect. I haven't seen a temperature above zero yet, but if the wind isn't blowing (about a 50/50 proposition lately) it doesn't feel all that cold. I spent every day but Sunday this week working with a team in the freezer, consolidating and reorganizing so the station can access more food items now and stock more later this season. There's plenty of time to chat with my fellow weirdos and watch movies. Ultimately it's a really nice time to be here.