Because of all the people we already knew that we got to see in Missouri (my mom, Tanaja’s boyfriend and Brian), our week in St. Louis didn’t involve a ton of time spent as a team. Little Rock, Arkansas was our first official week with just us Central Nuts in a place none of us were familiar with, and already I could see the growth in each one of us as well as as a team.
For Tanaja, I could see it through her willingness to try things out of her comfort zone (Teri Goudie would be so proud). When we were at Winter Staff one of Tanaja’s old partners warned me, “Tanaja will never do anything outdoorsy with you.” Well, lo and behold, it was only our second week and Conner and I successfully convinced her to hike Pinnacle Mountain, which is an uphill, strenuous trek that is more like rock climbing than a hike at certain points. Although she did have some complaints and it took her awhile longer than Conner and I (we hiked a lot during our 7 months out west), she completed the whole thing and we were both extremely proud of her. I think she was happy with her experience too, although she claims that hike will be a one time thing (we’ll see).
For Conner, it wasn’t so much personal growth as it was a growth of my understanding of who he is and where he comes from. During our days off in Little Rock, we traveled to Conner’s family cabin in the middle-of-nowhere Arkansas for a night. We got tragically lost in a maze of dirt back-roads on our way in, but when we finally made it we were greeted by Conner’s extremely sweet and Southern Grandma. We spent the night four-wheeling, cooking a huge spaghetti dinner, making s’mores and playing Monopoly, of course! Conner’s grandma also shared tons of stories about Conner, and learning more about his past and what he was like growing up was so interesting because I feel like I know everything there is to know about present-day Conner. The next morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of honey biscuits and real scrambled eggs (as opposed to fake hotel eggs) prepared by Conner’s grandma before heading back to civilization.
My own personal growth happened mainly through the things I did on my own. After work one day my teammates were tired, but I was eager to explore. I first headed to Little Rock Central High School, the School that the Little Rock Nine attended. I spent time walking the grounds and the commemorative garden, and afterward checked out the museum. It was cool to be at a such an important, historic site that I’ve grown up learning about and I can be a huge nerd about history and museums, so I loved being able to take my time and look through/read the exhibits. Afterward, I headed to the Little Rock River Market where I hung out at a coffee shop for awhile. I intended to work on my blogs, but really ended up staying for much longer than anticipated eavesdropping on a very intense conversation going on next to me (gotta love coffee shops).
People often say one of their best experiences from this job is doing things independently. I’ve always been happy being on my own, but my old team was usually on the same page, so if one of us made plans, the other two would end up tagging along. My new team does a lot together too, but we all have our own preferences, and though that’s not bad at all, it is different. Being in an unfamiliar place and making a plan for your day definitely teaches you really quickly what you enjoy, and even though I love being with my team, I’m hoping to have more solo adventures this half as well!
As I’ve written about before, I am a huge fan of traditions, which naturally means I’m a huge fan of the most American holiday of all, Super Bowl Sunday. Although I couldn’t care less about the football itself, I love the Super Bowl for the hype, the commercials, the half-time show and the food – which for me usually means a heaping plate of loaded nachos. Tanaja and Conner thankfully honored my food request, and we spent the game at a bar with a huge viewing screen and endless rounds of nachos, wings, chips and drinks. As marketing professionals (sort of lol) we all especially enjoyed the commercials and even found ourselves getting sucked into the game – we love a good underdog and ended up passionately rooting for the Eagles.
For the millionth time since June, Little Rock had me hyper-aware of how extraordinary this job is. Not only am I learning a ton about who I am and what I like to do, but I get to learn more and more everyday about my “coworkers,” and do all of that while visiting somewhere I’d otherwise never go, like a river-side cabin in Arkansas. I can’t even fully comprehend at this point how much I’ve already grown and changed because of this job, but seeing that same growth in the people around me has been an incredible experience.
Cashew soon with a-nutt-a one!