The wind hit you for real around 1630. You came out of Ho-Cal, rounded the corner, and it just blindsided you with a body slam. You spun around a couple of times, getting your footing, fumbled with the zipper to get Red closed and the hood up, then tried to remember where you’d been going just a few moments ago. How could it change so quickly? At least you were going downwind, and were up in town, rather than down on the sea ice. You couldn’t even see the airfield through the whiteout down there, and everything on the ice itself was in Condition 1 weather lockdown – no movement without explicit permission from the station manager. That 1700 flight out to the Pole? Not gonna happen.
Your bags, of course, are on a pallet until the flight does go, leaving you to live off of whatever you’ve got in your knapsack-sized carry on. When the first Herc flight does go, you’re not going to be on it – the guys on P001 are the real essential ones, some of whom have been trying to get to Pole for almost two weeks. You’re on P002, whenever it manages to launch, and until then, you’re back at the Hotel California, checked out and still trying to leave. In your bag, you’ve got your computer, your copy of Kapuscinzki, and the dirty t-shirt, socks and underwear you changed out of after your shower last night.
Karen had described to you that moment when the excitement of the new season gets punctured, like a balloon jabbed with a pin. Said it always happened. Said it could be something tiny and inconsequential – someone jostling you in the lunch line, or knocking your coat on the floor. And then suddenly the adrenaline that had been holding is gone – pfffffffft – in a matter of seconds, and you’re left a tired, exhausted mess who just needs to find a quiet corner and fall apart. Sometimes it took days to recover; to find and begin the quiet process of building yourself back up to normalcy.
But if you’re lucky, you’ve been through this before. You know how to catch yourself. You know that you need to eat a good meal Right Now – freshies, lots of protein, and light on the sugars. You know that Skua Central has a clothing exchange where you can pick up spare stuff to wear. You know that one of the lounges in the 207-209 is going to be empty and quiet enough to play that guitar you’ve borrowed from Gear Checkout. And you know that, after another night at Ho-Cal, tomorrow is going to be another day.