I counted, recently, due to a conversation with a new friend. I have moved at least once a year since graduating college in the winter of 2012. Tally the relocations up with me:
To Jackson Lake Lodge dorms – 1 (roommate tally 4)
To the First Chair apartments in Vail – 2 (roommate tally 7)
To the Grand Teton Gold and Tennis Club employee communal house – 3 (roommate tally 7)
To Building #2 (happily known as the party building, also the “sign an asbestos warning release” building) at the Tarnes apartments in Avon – 4 (roommate tally 10)
Pulling the typical millennial regression of moving back in with my parents. In my defense, I did pay at least a pro forma rent – 5 (roommate tally 10)
To Building #4 at the Tarnes. This one had washers and dryers on the actual premises! Also, sticky fingered roomies. – 6 (roommate tally 12)
To Apt. B. in Eagle-Vail. Private room, but no kitchen. Give and take. – 7 (roommate tally 12)
To Paradise Road in Park City – 8 (roommate tally 15)
By my count, that’s too many moves, too many strangers, and too many places where customizing the space to myself was never quite possible. Eight moves, five years, it’s no wonder that when I last took the health insurance mandated survey, it politely informed me that I had a stressful lifestyle and should consider moving less. This was back when the moves were part of my contract with the company providing the insurance, so I laughed in a slightly bitter fashion and ignored the advice. But after my last winter in Beaver Creek, I began considering more seriously how to settle.
I started out on this seasonal work road assuming that I would eventually find a place and people to settle down to, but even though I had the most connections and the longest lasting work placement in Avon, the thought of moving there was the opposite of relaxing. Similar to the finally considering the stark numbers that reflect my surprisingly nomadic life, when I was last asked how often I visited family and I said “about three times a year,” my own reply shocked and disappointed me. But the long drive from Colorado never feels practical on a two day weekend and while flying out from Denver takes about half as long, it costs about twice as much.
Still convinced that I wanted to stay with the company I’ve worked for since graduating, I looked into the possibilities of locations closer to Idaho and found employment relatively easily in Park City. It’s a similar little mountain town, with hiking trails out the backdoor and ski runs dotting the landscape. There’s a slightly more settled feel to it, with Salt Lake City only thirty minutes away and I was surprised by how many of my co-workers seem permanently fixed here, versus the transitory feel of the other towns I’ve been through in the past few years. I took a slight drop in responsibilities, which I felt was reasonable, since the restaurant is slightly finer dining than I have line-cooked in before, but I’m nearly seven weeks into the season and reminded that life as a line-cook becomes routine quickly. The chef has been kind enough to rotate me around through the stations, which helps keep the kitchen fresh and lets me see the processes and details of all the dishes on the menu. Four weeks in, however, he hadn’t yet started this program and working gardemanger during the slow summer season on a slow line in a restaurant with a clearly settled management team was making me think hard about settling here. It’s not that I have anything against taking a subordinate position in order to learn new skills and techniques, but four weeks in seemed a little early to be feeling stalled. So I browsed Craigslist and thought of all the new restaurants that were opening up in Idaho.
Then, just a few hours after my father reminded me that I did not sign a contract to stay for the full summer and could always give notice and move if a good opportunity was presenting itself, my former chef called from Colorado to ask my to apply for a sous chef position. Feeling guilty, after all the mentoring he had given me over the past few years, I regretfully told him I wasn’t willing to move back to Colorado. Then, in what felt a bit like twisting the knife, I asked him to give me a recommendation to his acquaintances in Idaho. They had come up before in conversation and he immediately agreed to send me their information. I was slightly shocked to see an email that afternoon sent to both me and his acquaintances that included a letter of recommendation and an introduction. I hadn’t planned on making the contact quite yet, with three months left on my summer lease and only a month of work beneath my belt to support it. Since things seemed to be on a roll, though, I followed up with an inquiry of my own and about a week later found myself filling out an application for a position in McCall, Idaho. Now I’m in discussions regarding housing and cats and dates of availability with chefs and recruiters. I’m still trying to stick the summer out here in Park City, but on the horizon, I can see the opportunity to settle. It’s been a longer migration than I had planned, but it seems to be coming full circle.