These six essays originally appeared as the intros to the six issues of our 45th volume. Our first issue of volume 46 prints soon. To receive future intros in their original print, sign up here.

PHOTO: Cam McLeod

Part III: Just Go

It hadn't snowed in weeks. The routine—the runs, the bars, the buffoonery—felt redundant. It was time to go somewhere new. To explore beyond comfort zones—the unknown places where growth and perspective await. And, let's be honest, to get the hell out of town and find some snow.

I bought a ticket late one night. Liquid courage is still courage. The morning of the trip, I left my house at 4 a.m. The world was asleep; my world was headed somewhere else. Walking through an airport full of strangers, I went through the motions. The relief of dropping my ski bag at ticketing. The fear it would be lost. The conformity of the security line. Triple checking my pocket for my passport. The woman behind me, upon seeing my ski boots, explained that her son snowboards, too. I got through and ordered a beer. Time-zone confusion means it's always socially acceptable to saddle up.

Sitting on the tarmac, I felt the lonely, insecure apprehension that comes with travel. Was I running from something? What was the point of this trip, anyway? Staying home with friends and the girl who feigns interest in me would have been easier.

The plane accelerated. The wheels lifted. The anxiety fell away. The sun was beginning to rise. We flew beyond the streaks of orange and into a deep, dark navy sky. In seat 21A, I settled in to my usual routine: wine and a rom-com; sentimentality and a turkey sandwich.

After one beer, two wines, three half-assed meals, four restless hours of sleep, and some weird amount of time since I left my house, I had arrived. While my body was a confused mess, my mind was fully awake.

It was a small airport. The baggage claim had just two conveyor belts. I didn't see the one thing essential to my trip. Eventually, a large man in a blue jumpsuit missing a great many teeth tapped me on the shoulder. I followed him through a door and he showed me my prize: my ski bag.

I wheeled it past the customs guy who couldn't have given less of a damn. The exit doors opened. Outside, men in orange vests picked at ice while others shoveled snow.

It was morning. But it looked different. It smelled different and sounded different. I felt energized by a vague recollection of why we travel. I remembered that the only thing I was running from was the ordinary. I was ready to let go of good sense and practicality in the name of some indescribable urge to open myself up and let the good forces of the planet take over. To satisfy my cultural curiosity and a healthy appetite for adventure, and to feel the freedom of having no certain plans—only a desire to connect with foreign skiers while exploring the unknown.

A man who didn't speak my language opened the door of his taxi for me. I got in and we tried to find the quickest route to the mountains.

Read Part I: Welcome Back
Read Part II: Here We Go
Read Part IV: In Deep
Read Part V: Our Own Sense of Time
Read Part VI: The Good Life

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