Friday, April 2, 2010

Living the dream

Wanderlust Interrupted

Express Staff Writer

The month of March not only marked the exciting announcement that Fox is planning to make a feature film based on the anthropomorphic, Gordon Gekko-styled babies from the E-Trade commercials (no, really, this is happening), but also my third year as what Zoolander would call an investigatory journalist.

While most of my readers (insert cricket sounds here) are reacting to this news with about as much enthusiasm as if they just heard that Tiger Woods slept with the entire Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad, it's a rather important milestone for me. See, this is by far the longest consecutive stretch of employment I've experienced. Ever.

But despite the knowledge that my parents must be oh so excited about having spent their hard-earned money on my education, my years of dedication to an itinerant lifestyle were not exactly conducive to a steady job.

Thus, my résumé reads somewhat like that of esteemed U.S. stateswoman Sarah Palin (although I didn't have the advantage of attending half a dozen universities), with an array of seemingly unrelated jobs. But if being an Alaskan beauty queen is an acceptable prerequisite to being a vice-presidential candidate, it makes sense that sitting behind a banker's desk for 14 hours a day letting your muscles atrophy would be necessary training for aspiring bike messengers.

But, at the expense of some raised eyebrows during interviews, this experience had the benefit of providing me with (at least what I consider) entertaining travel experiences for columns that have made great fish wrappers for the past few years.

However, after around two dozen columns, I realize the one place I've woefully neglected to write about is my new hometown.

This is indeed negligent, as the Wood River Valley is as much a destination as any of the places I've written about. Sure, there may not be topless sunbathers on a white sand beach or aggressive-looking former Soviet soldiers parading around city streets with AK-47s, but it has its charms nonetheless.

And while everyone can agree on the obvious—a valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains where you can see an elk by the side of the road and the Boss drinking a schooner—it's, as John Travolta said in "Pulp Fiction," "the little differences."

Honestly, in what other town will you see the same person in the lift line, grocery store, movie theater and restaurant, all in the same day? In all the other towns I've lived in, I haven't needed a single digit, let alone a hand, to count the number of firefighters or police officers I knew by name.

But for me, the best evidence of what makes the valley unique was a benefit for fellow Sun Valley Suns player Ivars Muzis, whose parents were injured back in Latvia when their house suffered horrible damage from an exploding propane tank.

While the event brought out many of the team's faithful (Tina Carnes, I'm looking at you), there were also plenty of unfamiliar faces who generously supported a family thousands of miles away that they are highly unlikely to ever meet.

And while I joke that the benefit was actually just a ruse to pay off his outstanding bar tab at Whiskey's, it's exactly this sense of community, even more than the surrounding nature, that makes it so easy for people to transplant themselves from all over the world only to have the same reply to "what are you up to?"

Living the dream.

Jon Duval is a staff writer for the Idaho Mountain Express.

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