I’ve spent the last ten days with a cast of new friends, the kind that immediately lodge themselves in your heart for life. Laughter brought us closer day after day; our shouts and hurrahs rang through two mountain ranges, leaving us each day with a frenzy of delighted, powder-filled memories. But it’s time to go. Zero hour. No time left to have one last drink, one last laugh.

The plane ticket’s been purchased and finally there’s somewhere to be – somewhere else. I hug everyone I see, have a few last jokes and smiles, write my email address two dozen times and beg them to stay in touch. “I’ll see you next year,” I say, half a promise, half a question. I walk into the frigid night towards my room and waiting half-filled suitcase, moon muted and stars invisible through the cloud layer bringing the next dampening layer of snow; good for covering tracks, filling in cracks and holes, smoothing the bumps and remaking the landscape into perfection for the incoming crew; starting the cycle anew.

Cold is good for raw emotions. Eyelashes freezing together is a practical concern, one useful for putting a stern stop to runaway feelings stirred by the sting of goodbyes.

Time to move on to the next chapter. I have to go home and turn a few pages of my own. Soon the world will follow suit, rolling human habitation into another year. I wave casually and steal away into the night, blinking too fast, too chicken to go back for that last real “see you later.” But this place has stolen a part of me, too – a place in my heart and mind that will never, ever forget the way we ended 2012.