Monday, December 8, 2008

Post Mortem

It's been nearly a month since I left the ice, and my memories of the past year are fading with shocking rapidity. All the long walks through the dark, the frustratingly short 2 minute showers, the excitement and the boredom, all the good times and the all bad seem so distant now, as though imagined in a dream.

Life in the real world is spectacular. Everything is so vibrant, practically humming with life. The birds, the trees, the rivers - they seem almost too real. My mind is buzzing with activity every time I leave my hotel room; there's just so much to see and do. It's all so new, a sort of rebirth after the confinement at pole.

I'd forgotten how much I like water. From ridiculously long and frequent showers to going scuba diving to simply dangling my feet in a stream, I've been spending a lot of time in and around water. Rain has probably been my favorite experience since leaving the ice - the smell, the feel, the sudden change that passes over the world.

Apparently all polies experience something like this on leaving the ice: complete wonderment at every little thing that seemed so routine before our polar incarceration. Flowers, animals, daily sunrises - everything holds a new importance to us. It's funny looking at the world through fresh eyes, and it's a wonder to experience it all again for the first time.

All these new experiences and sensations seem to be completely overwhelming the memories of life at pole. To be honest, I'm not entirely convinced that it actually happened, that I did live at the South Pole for the past year. Those memories are so slippery now, fleeting and ephemeral. I'm sure they'll reassert themselves as I settle back in to regular life, but for now, the pole feels very, very far away.

As one final note on this blog, I'd like to say thanks to everyone who read it through the year, and particularly to those who posted comments. It was one of my few lines to the outside world, and the occasional word of support went a long way in helping to maintain my mental health. I hope you all enjoyed reading it, and that I could somehow share some of the experience of being down there.

- Keith