My Coat, My Keys, My Anchor

The last flight of Mainbody (summer season) departed early this afternoon. McMurdo’s population is now 320.

I moved into my new winterover room, where I will live for the next seven months. I’ll have pictures of that soon. I’ll say for now that I have done more to decorate it than I have in previous rooms in Madison.

I’ve been wearing my blue down jacket more than my USAP-issued big red parka, which I wore all summer season, lacking any other warm coat. I like wearing something that’s mine, and not something I’ll have to return to the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) in Christchurch when I redeploy. It makes me feel more at home.

I spent all summer with one key, my dorm room key. Now, I have six keys keys swinging on the carabiner Gina gave me before she left. A dorm room key, the key for the fat tire bike I still need to pick up, and four keys for work. Yessss….. just like WMUU 🙂

There’s something about walking around McMurdo in my own jacket and a set of keys jingling at my hip that makes me feel at home. It’s like they are anchoring me to this place. They’re little signifiers that I am needed here; that I am less migratory than I was when I came down here in October with my CDC-issued clothes and lived in a spartan dorm room that I never really turned into a home because I was almost never there and I thought I was only staying for four months anyway.

For better or for worse, I seem to have become an Antarctican. I live here now.

And I intend to make myself useful here. In addition to working 54+ hours per week at my regular job, I also got a side job working in the station store a few hours per month. I plan on leading one or two rec activities, I might volunteer with the fuels department so I can be a fuels operator and go to South Pole in a future season, I want to learn to play the banjo and the saxophone, I’m writing the monthly station update for the Antarctic Sun, I’m gonna start my all-vinyl radio show in a week or two, and starting in April I’ll be the band room coordinator, or “POC”.

I didn’t really feel like this was my home until I was mopping the station studio, looking down the empty hallways, and realizing that “summer camp for adults” was over. As my friend Steve, who’s done winter seasons before, would say, “Now the real fun can begin.”



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