New to the Vail Valley: Being an outsider
Every time you move to a new community, there’s a lot to adjust to—new people, new living situation, new job, new places to go and so much more. One thing that I didn’t exactly account for when I moved here, however, is just how different I can be from the community here. Not to worry, I’m adapting, but there have definitely been a few moments where I’ve noticed that I stick out like a sore thumb.
I don’t know what apres means. The first time I heard of it, my mind went to the Grand Old Opry, which I immediately knew couldn’t be right. I’ve Googled the word, and the definition that comes up is “coming after in time.” So I guess you could say that I know what it literally means, but when a place says, “we have great apres deals,” is that a fancy word for happy hour after work? A place to get dessert?
Also, is Beaver Creek an actual town? What about Eagle-Vail? Or are they just parts of Avon? I’ve (finally) learned what it means when people use those words, but I honestly have no clue if they’re actual towns and if a mailing address in that area should say “Beaver Creek” or “Eagle-Vail,” because I’ve seen it written both ways. The same question applies to East and West Vail; a town on its own, or just a part of town?
One that you’d think would be easy: up- and downvalley. Again, I’ve learned that up valley applies to Avon (and Beaver Creek and Eagle-Vail, if they don’t fall under the Avon umbrella) and Vail, but that took me a while. Why is upvalley the eastern side? Is it higher in elevation? Is it because it’s closer to Denver? Also, where do Minturn and Red Cliff fall? They’re on the East side, but you have to take a bit of a southern detour to get to them.
Confession time: I don’t really ski or snowboard. I’ll qualify that statement by saying that I used to ski, I just haven’t in years. It’s expensive between the pass and the gear, and as a young kid, it could be hard to find the time. Not to mention, I grew tired of landing face-first in the snow when I lost control. This year, things may be different — it’s been a long time, so it’s probably time to give it another try, and I’ll have a lot more opportunities now that I’m so close. I could even ski and then apres work during the week (I’m sure I’ve used that word wrong). I have to admit, however, that I totally get a kick out of telling people that I’m not a skier. It’s almost like they don’t know how to continue the conversation with me, because they’re next question was surely “have you skied here before?”
I’ve met a lot of people since I moved up here — that’s the beauty of journalism. Everyone that I interact with regularly has been very helpful in my transition, especially the people that I work with (and I’m not just saying that so that they let me run this column). However, I’ve had a few experiences that have served as a very strong reminder of my being new here. Nearly every time I visit a store, I’m asked where I’m visiting from. It’s a tourist-heavy city, I get that, but I’ve been here for a few months now and it’s kind of awkward when I tell them I live in Avon (Eagle-Vail?). Sometimes, an employee, trying to discretely ensure that I’m not stealing anything, even follows me around a store.
I understand that I don’t exactly blend in here; I don’t own any Patagonia, my sunglasses don’t look like I’m ready to hit the slopes and some of my shoes aren’t exactly all-terrain. On top of that, I’m pretty young (22) in a community where there aren’t too many people my age. But, I have to believe (for my own sake) that I don’t look or behave like a thief.
Note: these experiences don’t speak for everyone in Vail. There are plenty of people here that are nice, and I am becoming acclimated, I just need to keep in mind that not everyone knows who I am.
Nate Day is the Arts & Entertainment editor at the Vail Daily, and moved to the Vail Valley in early August, he can be reached at email@example.com.