Antarctica is sliding by at six hundred miles per hour outside the window. I’m crashed out on the empty cargo bay floor of a C-17 on it’s way to Christchurch. There are so few northbound pax on the flight that the Air Force crew outnumbers us.
The transition from winter at Pole, to station opening crowds, to turnover, to a night in McMurdo, and now to here, has been eerily simple. My expectations of leaving winter have been filled by others with stories of shock and awe, moments of panic and exasperation. Each new thing, however, has calmly passed by me, celebrated in simple pleasures, and then been let go of. Thus far I’ve had no great moments of panic or epic joy, no severe highs or lows.
Truth be told, I actually found a deep and subtle satisfaction in turning the station over to the summer crew, to the new winterovers for the next season. I was able to let go, wandering around the station with a lop-sided grin and observant eyes, knowing that my story was moving on and that others were just beginning. Thus far transitioning away from winter has been easy.
But now I’m three hours out from New Zealand, three hours out from humidity and grass, traffic and city mayhem. Three hours out from thousands of new faces, the crush of large stores, the smells of the botanical garden, the sea-salt of the Pacific, dogs, children… Three hours out from a whole fleet of experiences I’ve not encountered in over thirteen months.
I expect it to be interesting.

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