On August 14th, my wife and I set out for the West Coast. Driving separate vehicles, we took with us everything we could stuff in and between our boxes, and headed west. Our destination: Walla Walla, Washington.
Awaiting us was a one week booking at a Motel 6, and the promise of an opportunity for me to work as a harvest intern at a local, premium winery. Jordan, while being very hirable and sporting a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, would be arriving unemployed.
For those of you unfamiliar with the business, a harvest intern is the lowest rung on a winery’s ladder. The job is full of long, stressful hours, surrounded by plenty of machines and chemicals that could seriously injure or even kill you. Your job is to show up whenever the cellar master calls and follow his instructions from the moment you arrive until the moment he says “go home.” There is no 9am-5pm. Hours are unpredictable, and you are unemployed when the roughly three month season is over.
So where was I? Oh yes, leaving home behind us and starting over.
Plan A did not work out. I really hoped it would, but Jordan and I ran into more than our share of difficulties driving across the country and getting settled here. Among other things, our trip was riddled with vehicle issues and lost bookings. Housing was scarce in Walla Walla and for more than a moment, our motel seemed to be a permanent option. Tack on the monetary stress of relocating with the lack of familiarity and you have a wonderful cocktail for mental breakdowns.
Difficulties aside, I would not trade this opportunity for the world.
Walla Walla is a great little city. The people seem nice, the culture is lovely, and the weather is beautiful. The city hosts a community college with a well-respected Viticulture and Enology program which I hope to attend in the coming year. Ideally, my current experience as a harvest intern may help me land some cellar work so I can pursue both an academic and professional career simultaneously.
I never expected this transition to be a walk in the park. I know life is tough and I no longer consider that a negative thing, but more of a practical statement. If you want something, you have to work for it, and hard work is named just that for a reason.