At 24, you may think that taking the opportunity to move to France and work as a cleaner for a while is not that big a step. For those who know me, the fact that an idea like that could ever fit into my fat complex brain is a miracle in itself. When I accepted the job in Val d'Isere I hadn't a clue what I was getting myself into, though I knew what I was trying to get myself out of.
I definitely escaped the monotony of life at home and launched myself - to the dismay of my parents/grandparents/everyone ever - into the unknown. A serious skiing accident at the age of 18 meant I had tried to erase every ski-related thing out of my mind; I never thought I'd ski again. Therefore, choosing to do a ski season was a bit mental, hmm?
During the first few weeks I hated every minute on the mountain. I'd look out of the window in the morning and think 'today, I can do this…' but as soon as I had my skis on I stiffened up and the memories kept flooding back. I strapped my helmet on so tight some days it was difficult to breathe and the skin on my throat would be raw. I had such a sore lower back because I stuck my bum out so much. IDEAL.
After a miserable afternoon on the piste the return to work was a chore. Long hours, boring work and little motivation. I found myself yearning for a drink not only for enjoyment or in preparation for a night out but to simply be able to relax and unwind. I needed it.
There was a turning point though. I think it was when we'd all had enough of crying and stress eating because of silly remarks and unnecessary pressure. We put the job to the side and concentrated on having fun during our time off, and I tried to get better at skiing.
Aaaaaand it worked! I got better! I got good! It felt great! It feels great! I can't believe how much I have improved in the time spent here, and I thank everyone for helping me along when I got scared and wobbly and said 'NO I CAN'T DO THIS I'M GOING HOME BYE BYE' because you knew I could and so I did.
Boys. A disparate group of boys aged 18-30. They have made me do my ugly witch cackle witch laugh so many times thanks to their wit, utter randomness and - most of all - their stupidity. Polite, generous and hilarious, the Young Boys and the Old Boys have made the good times a whole lot better.
Girls. Sharing a tiny apartment with three wonderful, kind, caring, crazy girls has been a joy. Each so brilliant in their own way; I will never forget the slurred speech during heart to hearts, scoffing gouda, Milka and crisps together at the bus stop when we're not even remotely hungry, the ridiculous amount of cereal consumed at various times of day, smashing plates in tears and hysterical laughter, the 'good morning's, the 'good night's and every single perfectly timed 'are you ok?'. In such a small space we have so many memories to take with us and cherish. When we shut the door for the last time I hope our laughter is contained in those paper-thin walls as it always will be in my heart. We will always be a (slightly crappy, still can't quite get those harmonies…) girlband. L.E.R.K forever x
[I knew I'd cry. Oops.]
Boy. I've met someone who makes me try new things, see things differently and doesn't let me give up if I can't do something perfectly the first time. They say patience is a virtue… pfft. He's changed the way I think about things and how I feel about me. Impressive.
I'm so glad I was brave. Although a little selfish in my decision to come here, it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets now. I'll go back to Chelmsford a decent skier with an open mind and someone who's excited about the future - not scared. I'm no longer stuck in a rut where I have to pretend everything's ok and just 'get on with it' because I have to.
I'm smiling. Properly.