I find it ironic that I hate the cold like nobody’s business, can’t do one winter related sport to save my life and yet we live in an area that typically gets 120+ inches of snow a season, a season that lasts upwards of five months out of the year. My family up and bolted for sunnier pastures years ago and left me holding down the igloo. Now when they call me from the blistering heat of their respective states, they’re shocked that the wind chill here is –30º and there’s snow up to my gallbladder. Then they berate me, demanding to know how any sane person can possibly call this frozen tundra of hell her home? As if they didn’t live here for the first 25 years of my life. Hello? Have we met?
When Nate and I were dating eleven years ago, he decided that it would be a great idea if we went skiing. He knew full well that I was snow challenged but that did not deter him and he insisted we give it a try. I’d even get a beginner lesson before hitting the slopes. Because we were still in the early part of our relationship, the throes of the you-are-so-utterly-perfect-and-I-can’t-keep-my-hands-off-you stage, I said yes. But in my defense, I think I said it with an “oh my God, do I really have to do this” tone.
Hitting the slopes … it just sounded so … romantic, you know? I heard that phrase and pictured a young couple decked out in brand new color coordinated outfits with rosy cheeks and snow glistening off their woolen caps, laughing as they glide down a snowy white hill together and then hanging out in a cozy, warm lodge before a blazing fire, sipping hot chocolate.
Except that I had passed “young” eons ago and I didn’t own a color coordinated ski outfit, a point of great frustration as I sucked in my stomach and struggled to squeeze into my ten year old faded black snow pants. My jacket was cool though … a bright purple and turquoise job that I remember as looking AWESOME in the ’80s when I bought it.
On our way to the resort, Nate took a wrong turn and we got there late. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
We paid, rented our gear and suited up. It was the first time I ever put on ski boots. I stood up, took my first step and immediately thought I broke both my ankles. When I asked Nate if it was normal for them to feel as if they were being sawed off with a steak knife, he said yes. Fearing that I would lose my status as the perfect girlfriend always ready for an adventure, I slapped on a brave smile, allowed him to attach my skis and reluctantly clomped out to the bunny hill for my first lesson.
Because of Nate’s wrong turn of which we won’t speak, I missed the first 15 minutes of the lesson which included everything I needed to know about skiing. I managed to make it up and down the bunny hill without disembowling myself with my ski poles but it wasn’t pretty.
And may I add that I sincerely hope there is a special place in hell reserved for those sadists posing as ski instructors who like to channel U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeants. You know them, right? The ones who stand over you when you fall down and shout “GET UP. I’M NOT GOING TO HELP YOU UP. YOU GOT TO STAND UP ON YOUR OWN! DO YOU HEAR ME? DON’T YOU EYEBALL ME, MAGGOT. THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. YOU’LL THANK ME FOR THIS SOMEDAY.” You know what? Get over yourself. See my ski pole? See your ass? Shut the hell up.
My lesson ended and Nate skied over to the chair lift with me clumsily shuffling behind him, praying that by some act of God, the earth would open up, swallow me whole and I’d never see the top of this mountain and therefore never have to ski down it. That didn’t happen and as I waited in the lift line beside Nate for our chair to come around, I repeated his chairlift instructions over like a mantra: feel the chair, push back, sit down … feel the chair, push back, sit down. I got myself so worked up that when the chair finally came, I practically lunged myself backwards onto it and almost knocked Nate completely off of it.
During the ten years it took to get up to the top of the mountain, Nate did his best to calm me down and assure me that getting off the lift was simple: I would slide a bit and then naturally veer to the left along the slope and come to a stop. Easy peasy.
To this day, I’m not sure exactly what happened. All I know is when I got off the lift, I was standing for a brief moment and then I wasn’t. My poles went flying, my skis did weird things and I did a face plant in the snow. Then came a screeching metal sound as the lift stopped. Then came the shouts of protest from the skiers stranded on the lift. Then came the lift operator to see what the hell that heap of debris was in the middle of the lift line and why was it crying? Then came Nate to drag the debris away.