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Opinion: A love letter to the place I thought I would always hate

'The first six months were the most depressing of my life'
puppy
How do you know you've lived in the Sea to Sky for a long time? When this is how your senior dog looked in 2014.

I hit a major milestone in 2022.

September marked 10 years since I packed up a new-to-me four-wheel-drive vehicle with my meagre belongings and made the (what then seemed like a) harrowing drive to Whistler to start a job as Pique’s arts editor.

I lived for a few weeks in the “chicken coops” in Creekside before perusing housing options like a $1,000 one-bedroom in Nick North and a $1,200 suite in the Vale Inn apartments—which I ultimately settled on. (They seemed insanely pricey for a small town to me, but then, I had no idea what Whistler was.)

The first six months were the most depressing of my life.

I absolutely hated it here. Coming from the hustler world of New York City (where I had only lived for two years, but wished never to leave), I could not understand how so many people could have such little career ambition. I didn’t get how Bob Marley and EDM could be deemed cooler than all the emerging indie rock bands I loved. I really couldn’t understand how leggings, Blundstones, and a toque were top fashion.

I spent my lunch hours in my car interviewing for jobs in Toronto and L.A.—anything to get me out of this world I didn’t understand, where I certainly didn’t belong.

My first day at Pique I remember wearing chunky heeled boots from Madewell. They clicked loudly on the wood floors and I felt like each stomp screamed, “YOU GOT IT WRONG. YOU GOT IT WRONG.”

(To this day, I’m not sure I’ve worn them again.)

One work day, probably around 4 p.m., likely in early winter, Pique’s administrative assistant at the time came upstairs and was looking through the large windows that face Whistler Mountain.

“Wow,” she marvelled. “Look at the alpenglow.”

I remember so distinctly thinking, “I will never be someone who finds that much joy in some sun on a mountain top.”

But slowly, surely, Whistler—and the Sea to Sky—changed me into that person.

If you had told that depressed 20-something back in 2012 that she would not only be here a decade later, but also be here raising a family, she would’ve fought the urge to slap you across the face.

It was never the plan—not even close. The plan was to be at a daily newspaper or magazine in a major city going to concerts and brunching at cute new restaurants on the weekend.

Looking back now, to me the moral of this is the beautiful, unexpected, surprising turns life can take, even when you seem to be on a certain trajectory, working towards certain goals, for so many years.

It wasn’t a ski season, or desire to play in the mountains, or even a partner who brought me to Whistler, like it is for so many. It was simply chance.

Slowly, I made friends. I discovered trail running, hiking, backpacking, and re-visited downhill and cross-country skiing.

I discovered how incredibly fulfilling it is to be in nature—and learned that all those people who seemed to be so unambitious with their careers simply found deeper fulfillment in their outdoor passions rather than jobs.

In truth, I do sometimes miss aspects of my old self—the one who put much more effort into outfits and staying on top of new music—but Whistler has given me a life I could never have dreamed up on my own.

And just this morning, sitting at my desk thinking about how to recap 10 years in a 600-word column, I did the thing I once thought I’d never do.

I looked up at the snow-covered mountains and marvelled at their beauty.

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