The Other Side of the Mountain

As we gathered by the bus at 6:15am, a student turned to my husband and asked, incredulously, “You ski? I thought you would spend your weekends at home reading a book or something.” Zach replied with dignity: “Yes, I ski,” while I snickered behind a mitten at the boy’s uncannily accurate description of 95% of our weekends.

Let’s be honest: the closest we’ve come to adventure recently was purchasing a 75 cent memoir by an unfamiliar author at the public library’s book sale, (which, by the way, turned out to be a bad decision). So we can’t complain if anyone appears surprised when we voluntarily participate in semi-athletic events. Zach is actually quite good at skiing. He keeps pace with me out of the goodness of his heart, but I suspect he could have handled much more difficult trails on his own.

The the first and last time I went skiing was over two years, on a very special day that I wrote about here. Perhaps it was beginner’s luck, or maybe Cupid’s cherub’s were watching over me to make sure Zach’s proposal plans weren’t interrupted by a trip to the emergency room–either way, my first day of skiing was AWESOME. Rather, I was awesome:  I was bold, if not quite fearless, and I remember grinning madly the entire time.

But my luck wore out on Saturday. Perhaps I was thinking about it too much, or maybe the lingering pregnancy weight affected my momentum; either way, I found myself with too much momentum and too little courage. Not practiced enough to adequately control my speed, I varied between two different approaches: tedious switchbacks and a full-throttle beeline to the bottom. The first technique frequently led to mishaps. Not turning sharply or smoothly enough often left me face-first in a snowbank, butt in the air, with one ski skidding down the mountain ahead of me, like a disdainful teenager trying to lose his parent in the crowded mall. The beeline “technique” always led to a combination of prayers and cursing as I sped past the contemptuous eight-year-olds with perfect form, screaming through clenched teeth “SCARED! I’m so SKEEERD. Oh, God, TOO FAST!” Fortunately, I never completely wiped out after one of those, though I did question the sagacity of getting back on the lift after God had already granted my less-than-eloquent prayers for survival.

I did get back on, though, and I kept going until the falling snow stung my face and made it difficult to see. People who ski regularly invest in equipment like goggles and face masks–I understand the value of these items now. But I don’t think I’ll ever fall into the category of people who ski regularly. Don’t get me wrong: Saturday’s excursion WAS fun, despite my lack of grace, and I’m grateful that I was invited to tag along on Zach’s school’s trip.

I just prefer to enjoy the outdoors more privately. To me, the trouble with skiing is everyone else. While I’m hugging an unaffectionate pine tree, attempting to reattach my ski to my boot, I don’t appreciate the audience of pitying passersby, and I certainly don’t appreciate suggestions shouted down from the chairlift churning overhead (even if they’re right and you DO have to push the latch down in the back first). When I sit down on my skis and weep while scooting my way down a sharp incline, I’d prefer to do it without witnesses. 

But my preferences don’t count for much. You can’t ski unless someone else has already invested millions in developing a mountainside into a series of trails and lifts. And those millionaires won’t get much of a return on their investment if they only sell a couple of tickets a day. I get it. I do.

Maybe I’ll give it another shot in a couple of years. Perhaps my inner equilibrium will be stronger by then. Or perhaps my pride will be less prone to bruising. And maybe, in a few more years, I won’t be a little disappointed when the day doesn’t end in another proposal. After all, the best day of your life can only happen once.

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2 Comments

Filed under Courage

2 responses to “The Other Side of the Mountain

  1. I feel about jogging (or any exercise, really) the same as you do about skiing: Something to do privately. Too awkward to be so obviously breathing heavy after half a block!

  2. Janet Schamp

    This is why I prefer waterskiing. You can’t do it close to anyone else. Only your loved ones in the boat see you wipe out, and are quick to come to your rescue with an encouraging “want to try again?”

    I hope we can meet up in Parsons again this coming June and take advantage of Gpa’s boat while we still can.

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