On Friday night, David was calling around trying to get people to go snowboarding or skiing with him the next morning. He couldn’t find anyone to go with him, which is crazy. Who turns down FREE skiing passes? So, I tell him that I wish I could go. It’s been 10 years or so since I got to go skiing, what with the pregnancies and nursing and small children. And David looks at me and says I should.
The next morning, we talk to my mom and she’s willing to watch the kids. She is shocked I wanted to go. I hadn’t realized I’ve turned into such a stick in the mud. So, I borrow her ski equipment, including a pair of boots that is 1.5 sizes too small for me (I had great control, but my toes fell asleep a lot). We load up and head to Sundance. I’m excited, because I’m with my guys: my daddy and my hubby. I haven’t ever seen David snowboard and he’s never seen me ski.
Walking around in too small ski boots reminds of something, but I can’t figure it out. It’s there, just out of reach. Later on the lift, I realize it’s C3PO from Star Wars. If I was covered with shiny metal and spoke in a British accent, we’d be twins. Our attitudes are similar too. I have a very C3PO sort of dialogue going through my head as we take the shuttle to the hill. I am convinced we are all going to die.
I managed to get close to the ski lift, then I get all geared up and wiggle my way to the ski lift line, congo line style. David, unlike me, looks SMOKING in his snowboard stuff. We make it safely onto the lift, which makes me happy. I always have visions of skis and poles and goggles and hats flying as I miss the lift chair and it smacks me around for my insolence. I’m getting nervous. What if I can’t remember how to ski?What if I fall and break my leg? What if I have to snowplow through all the turns? What if someone laughs at me? It takes forever to get to the top. We get off safely, which is a huge relief, because I have a similar vision to the one I had at the bottom of the hill with aggressive ski lifts, this time mixed with ski tips sticking into the hillside because I didn’t lift them up high enough and face plants, finished with a long slide down the back of the hill in full view of the other people on the lift.
I should maybe mention at this point that my terror of ski lifts is because I learned to ski when I was three years old. You can imagine what a little brain could do with those enormous ski lifts and having to have someone help you on and off and get this, they don’t stop for you. Of course, I do know (then and now) that they can stop the lift for you. But I’m always afraid they won’t be fast enough. I also, tragically for my active imagination, read a story in the Reader’s Digest when I was about nine, where the chair on the lift somehow disconnected and was hanging by a thread and some brave soul climbed up the cables and rescued everyone, thereby confirming my fear that they fall off the cables sometimes. Every time the chair bumps over the wheels on the cable, I get a rush of adrenaline. Also, you don’t have a bar in front of you on some of them, and I think that the weight of the ski boots and skis hanging out in open air will overpower me and I will slip out of my seat and. . .
I’m not much of a risk taker.
I get off the lift and start down the hill. The other two take off straight down, but I prefer to take the easy way down. The slow way down. The way down that doesn’t involve crushed parts of my skeleton. I really start picking up speed. I’m convinced I look like a grasshopper on crack, but a lot less graceful. I make it down the first steep hill. I want to watch David snowboard, but I’m too worried about gravity and ski poles to look long enough to pick out his greyish coat, grey hat and grey pants in a sea of neutral colored snowboarders. I notice my dad is waiting for me. I finally spot David. The next time we go skiing, I’m crocheting him a hat in time-honored-traffic-controller orange, so I will have a beacon to lead me down the hill safely. Did I mention I was very worried about going the wrong way and finding myself on an intermediate slope? That would be a disaster. On the 2nd run, I notice that Robert Redford has done me a solid, and there are signs every so often with arrows that say easiest way down.
I’m also upset to see that the way we are going down the mountain winds around the ski lift. I’m sure I brightened a few days by being the entertainment for the people on the lift. What can I say, it comes naturally to me. I know I’m not just being paranoid, because I fell once, and delighted that I didn’t break anything, I yelled out to David when I got closer, “Did you see me fall?” And some smart aleck from the lift yells back, “YES!” Which totally cracks me up, by the way, but destroyed my sense of anonymity. On the 2nd time up the mountain, I decide my purpose on this trip is to give reassurance to the beginning skiers that, in time, they too can look like me. All it takes is dedication and time, and they will have the level of skill I have achieved after 24 years of skiing every 6 years or so.
Speaking of falling, I really need to start working out. Thankfully, Dad was there two of the three times I fell to help me haul my blubber up on legs again. I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to make it and I’d have to crawl on my hands and knees down the hill, my skis flopping awkwardly behind me, like broken bones. Of course, it didn’t occur to me that I could snap out of the bindings, stand up like I normally would, then snap back in and go on my merry way. One time, David saw me fall and he said I just crumpled over. Like one of those toys, where you push the bottom and the string inside relaxes, so it collapses. Then when you release the button, it springs back to attention (this always makes me think of the movie, French Kiss with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline). It’s actually good to fall that way; you have much less chance of breaking a bone. Not that the thought of broken bones was on my mind at all. Nope. I was totally confident and cool. If you don't believe me, count how many times I mention broken bones in this story and you will see that I never mentioned them once, proving my total lack of concern about snapped skeletal parts.
At one point, at the end of my 3rd run, I’m feeling pretty good. Apparently, if you learn things before you are 5 or so,they actually stay with you. I may have forgotten every last thing I learned in Calculus, but my skiing skills and the ABCs are still intact. I see David go down the last little hill before the lift. This is the opposite way of the easiest way down sign. I think, I can do this! But when I get to where it gets steep, I freeze. I stop. I look around. Yep, easiest way down is behind me. Unless I want to take off my skis and hike back up, not happening. I look down the hill again. I really don’t want to go down that way. But I have my pride. There are probably 150 people milling around down there and it will be lacking in subtlety if I take off my skis and hike down. Of course, standing in my skies, petrified for over three or four minutes, at the top of a hill that most skiers would eat for dinner is a bit lacking in subtlety as well, but it was better than the alternative, which involved skiing down that thing.
By this point, David has arrived at the bottom and taken off his snowboard. He sees me and starts waving. He indicates that I should come down (I’m probably embarrassing him) and I shake my head no with a steady and rapid vibration, probably too jumpy and small a gesture for him to see. I can tell he thinks I can't see him, which would be consistent with my inability to find him all day. So, he just stands there. I know there is no other choice. I have to go down this steep hill. I just do it; the advertising exec for Nike must have found himself/herself in a similar predicament to come up with that slogan, and I silently thank him/her for his/her inspiration, because I get to the bottom in one piece. My dad points out my perfect turns in the snow. I’m not convinced. I still feel like a diseased monkey on stilts.
The last time I fell, Dad asked me if he could give me a tip. My fragile ego was feeling a lot better, because I fell while doing very graceful turns down the mountain, and there was no one around to see me fall. He said my leg position was great, but I needed to keep my arms in front of me, like I was holding a basketball. Apparently, flailing around like a windmill and stabbing people with ski poles is not correct technique.
I did four runs total. It was amazingly fun. I loved it, all of it, even the parts where I felt like a complete fool. We came home, I removed my too-small boots, massaged my numb feet, then we went out and bought ski equipment, just for me, in pretty colors. Hey, there was a sale.