Outside my bedroom window, I stared at charred lawns and suburban facades, four visible through just one pane. Another triple digit day. It’d been a week since I’d stepped out of the a/c. Where had I gone wrong? There was so much promise when I walked across that stage.
“Finally!” I thought “I’ll begin making money and be able to afford nice things.” As a first-generation college graduate from a young, middle class family, I’d made it my mission to find a financial escape. A career in investments promised to be the way.
With the salary, the luxury apartment, the sleek furniture, the tailored suits, and the designer briefcase, came the cubicle, the emptiness, and through a sea of headsets and neckties, a view. From my desk on the fourth floor of the Denver investment firm, I filled ten-hour days by staring longingly at the Front Range.
As a kid in the rustic plains of Central Texas, the mountains always represented a land of mystery. Each year, we’d take a trip to Colorado to go snowboarding. And the rest of the 51 weeks, I’d daydream. More than any one activity, I so deeply craved the unknown. I wanted to travel. I wanted to try things.
After five months at the firm, I’d had enough. In my student mind, the semester was up. I quit my job, and it felt good. But then, I did nothing.
Eleven months later, I sat in my childhood bedroom, on that scorching afternoon, staring at a discussion board on my laptop screen. In three semesters of an online master’s program, I’d written a few papers, and followed a few YouTube links.
I was curious about the world, but I hadn’t tried much yet, so I didn’t know how to begin. A classic catch twenty-two. I fell back on school. Nothing seemed new. As part of an assignment, I was tasked to design a website. And thus, I began my blog. In the fall, I ditched the program, and continued writing and reading on my own.
Through a friend, I discovered my first seasonal job. I applied to be a snowboard instructor at Keystone Resort, because it seemed like an experience, and because it fit with my desires to try things and write about them.
In the spring, I left to teach English in Korea. Another story. An abrupt end. In an isolation I could have never imagined, I so deeply longed for community. Through my desk at Daejeon Middle School, I found the opportunity at Grande Denali Lodge. I took it.
Over the course of four months in Alaska, I had more in-depth conversations than I’d ever had. I got to know people, I made genuine connections, and I developed an unrelenting love affair with life. I left Alaska with memories, friends, and money, which I used to begin a lifelong dream of traveling.
As I write this, from my room in Summit county, it’s snowing outside. I got my turns in this morning. A midweek powder day, what else can I say. Last week, I booked a flight to Japan – the next chapter in this book of experiences. I don’t know where, or when, or even if I’ll work this summer, but through seasonal work I’ve discovered a world of exciting opportunity.
Follow Tyler’s adventures and his writing at analogabroad.com