By Rachel Lam
B.A., Undeclared, 2019
Museum Intern at Yosemite National Park
I closed the door to my house in El Portal for the last time on the 20th of August. There was no sadness. Well, that might be misleading. What I mean to say is that I felt nothing walking away from my nominal residence of two and a half months. For my actual home of two and a half months, Yosemite National Park, I feel many emotions. I feel gratefulness, nostalgia, and awe. The day before I had driven out of Yosemite for the last time and I was all awe. As my little white Hyundai Sonata tumbled along Highway 140, I gawked at the scenery like I had on my first drive in. The Valley is impressive. It plays tricks on your eyes. The Merced River races the asphalt through giant cliffs beside giant trees - trees so towering that the cliffs, one hundred times larger, seem unrealistic and impossible.
The beauty of Yosemite will most likely dot my dreams for a long time. I’m grateful for the break I found this summer in its waterfalls and boulders, but I’m mostly grateful that I didn’t just appreciate the area. My job at the Yosemite Museum gave me a base of history and culture with which I thought about the area. A place is much more than what it looks like. A place is its past, its people, and at least a little different for each individual.
For me, Yosemite is many things. It’s where many wonderful, hilarious, and kind people work. It has a complicated history between the park service and its local tribes and groups. It knows my sweat, laughter, and annoyance with tourist traffic. It’s helped me understand myself in a work environment. I now know that I don’t like to do the same task for a long period of time unless it’s reading or writing. I can confidently say that I love analyzing things - objects, ideas, or people. I think I better understand the connection between liking what you do and liking why you do - in other words, working for a purpose is empowering and the park service has an inspiring mission of preservation and protection.
I feel blessed to have had this experience and I am already nostalgic for this summer. However, I did not and I will not say goodbye to Yosemite. I know that I'll be back.
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