When I studied abroad in Italy I met an adorable Italian boy at the café across the street from my adorable Tuscan apartment. I proceeded to see that boy everyday and did adorable romantic things with him. After, I don’t know, a week, I made the conscious decision to proceed attaching to the adorableness of it all with no regard for time or reality, as I did with everything during that dreamy, limitless summer. When I left work on my last day, I remembered how that ended.
When I first saw a temporary position open at Field & Stream all I wanted was a job at a magazine. I thought it would be hilarious and ironic if I finally discovered fishing and hunting after leaving Florida and Tennessee for the big city. I worried leaving a temporary job would be anti-climactic, but having a job at all would be worth it. When I got that temporary job, I thought it would be ideal. I’d be there long enough to learn and gain experience, but not too long to be swallowed by content that was completely foreign to me.
Then I had the opportunity to explore that foreign content, to try new things and write about my apprehensions and challenges, and the thrill of learning and experiencing and having fun in the outdoors. I read about the traditions fishing and hunting have established in so many families, the effects the outdoors has on fathers and sons and couples and generations, and the meaning of two things that haven’t played any role in my life, until now.
And I got attached. I got attached to the pseudo-family of experts who know every aspect and complexity of these sports, who taught me about seasons and tags and decoys and velvet, who could beeline to exactly what they need in a Bass Pro Shop while I’m staring at the fish tank with my mouth open. I grew attached to a staff that could not be more perfectly assigned and is consequently functional and productive and exceptional.
I grew accustomed to outlandish reader mail and therapeutic coffee breaks and inspirational pep talks and confusion caused by CC’d emails. I had just accepted that faxes come through 20 minutes after notifications and the printer takes 15 minutes to warm up in the morning and that the paper is always low. I even found sporadic unsolicited calls from elderly people who saw deer in their yards amusing.
I indulged in the collaboration of staff meetings, debating pitches on car rides, and sampling wild game from New York City chefs. I got seasick, sweat profusely in a four-hour ATV course, talked Gun Nuts in a truck while my rifle lesson was rained out, and learned where to aim on a deer when it was rescheduled. I got to do that at work.
I got attached, and I knew it was temporary, but the more I learned the more I wanted to know. I learned more about writing and blogging and pitching and editing. I learned about contributors and contracts and invoices and check requests. I learned about game food and web videos and thinking on my feet when interviews don’t go as planned. And I learned rifle posture and safety gear and strategy. If nothing else, I can shoot a gun.
So no, falling in love on another continent wasn’t smart or safe or long lasting, but it made me happy, and I don’t regret it. It’s an important chapter in my story. Likewise, I learned and grew at Field & Stream, and owe it to the characters who starred in that chapter that concluded today. What matters is how I carry the themes from these stories throughout the rest of the book. I just have to turn the page and keep writing.