10:13pm, Monday: I just tucked mom and dad and Hennie in for the last time for awhile. The time I've spent at home the last couple months has been unreal. Very old-lady, bed by 10 kinda unreal - let me clarify. But I've connected with my parents like I hadn't ever before. Maybe cause I finally matured. Who are we kidding, that’s probably it. I'm trying not to cry as I take in the smell of the laundry, or hug the pillow Joey sleeps on when he's here. This isn't goodbye, it's see you later. This will always be my home, no matter how long my adventures take me away. Today the boys loaded two of my million suitcases into the truck. At this point I have no clue what I've put in them.
7:55am, Tuesday: This morning was so bitter sweet. I don't think Hennie knew exactly what was going on, I kissed her mid breaky so she was awfully focused on her dish to soak up my embrace. Mom cried as we walked out to the truck, and even dad had a glint in his eye. Slate delivered me to the airport at a spry 5:45am.
2:00pm PST, Tuesday: Only now, as the plane is about to land in San Diego do I feel it's real. When I pick up my bags and then the rental car I don't have anybody to program the GPS or validate my directional skills. Tomorrow I will start working for Upper Deck, the company that makes hockey cards and memorabilia. It's my time to make a mark in the hockey world. I've studied my arse off for the past six years and dreamed about the day I would start a real job. Now that's happening and the coolest part is that it's my life experience as a professional hockey sister that is propelling me forward. All the moments of weakness where I've been unsure of my place in the hockey journey can be laid to rest.
A question I get a lot is how this all came about. How did I wind up with such a cool job in such a dream location? Well, one afternoon when I was applying for jobs like a mad woman (see my post Job hunting is a full time job) I thought to myself… Mad, you’re 23 years old. Yes these jobs are what you took in school but give it a whirl, go out on a limb, and apply to some hockey jobs. So I texted Slate, asked how far our connections reached without a conflict of interest and he suggested I check out Upper Deck. That day I signed my cover letter “Yours a hockey sister, Madison” and sent it in. I emailed it to the girl who, turns out, is now my amazing colleague/partner in crime. But I didn’t hear back until April Fools Day when Joey and I were driving and my phone started ringing from a number and Oceanside, California. He begged me to answer, insisting I had won a gimicky cruise. But I knew where the call was coming from and, as I slurped my bubble tea, I needed a second to get my mind in job mode.
After a few phone conversations the company flew me out for an in-person interview so Kare came with and we checked out the town. Carlsbad is a coastal dream, a fancy little city just north of San Diego where the ocean breeze keeps the Southern California temperatures at bay. The Mexican restaurants are a plenty and it seems they give Maserati’s away for free - I’m still waiting though. I’m living in a beautiful home owned by a lovely family and two doggies. It is really nice to come home to in these first weeks when every moment is a transition. Plus I’m living in a kind of luxury I don’t think my new grad budget could swing just yet which is a major score! The cost of living in California is nutso but renting a room in this home is a win-win.
My office is a sports fans paradise… memorabilia EVERYWHERE. When I arrived on Wednesday my department, Player Relations/Talent Acquisition, had a Crosby figurine and a Lightning helmet signed by Slate sitting on my desk awaiting my arrival. As if that wasn’t thoughtful enough, they took me to In-n-Out Burger for lunch to honour my first day in California which checked off the first stop on my Cali bucket list.
Driving along the coast, the famous Pacific Coast Highway - State Route 1, never gets old. Nor does seeing tall tall palm trees. My drive to work is ridiculous… looking out over mountains and valleys with amazing homes lined all the way to the tops.
It’s pretty surreal to be here and only feels far away when I Facetime home and see it’s already dark there while the sun is still up. So far I’ve been indulging in retail therapy to pass the time. A large part of that is scowering the aisles of WalMart for the American junk food we can’t get at home - see below. I’ve also signed up for a gym membership at Equinox (extreme levels of fabulousness, check it out!) which is pricier than the thrifty Mad would ever admit to but I’ve learned it’s part of the California lifestyle to spend time and money on perfecting yourself. I’m probably going to steer clear of the Botox and plastic surgery advertised on the radio every day so a gym membership really isn’t such a bad buy. Plus it's just plain beautiful there and I'm a working woman now. This is what us young-urban-professionals are meant to do!
My first work assignment comes this weekend at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas. As I write this I just got out of the car after I started the engine, mapped out my route, Googled “spray tan allergic reactions”, and promptly turned the car off and returned to my laptop. I have been talking up the spray tan for as long as I’ve known I’d be going to Vegas but the risk of itching and burning symptoms makes the perks of the colouring null and void. I’m a redhead, it’s expected I be pale-ish. Plus I spent a solid amount of time sitting on the beach (exclaimer: eating tacos) today so au naturel is how Vegas is going to see me. And I can't wait!
Until next time, this California girl has some sun to soak up.