Have I mentioned before in this space that I pretty much hate skiing? Yes. Yes, I have. More than once, actually. Take it from me: one should not learn to ski after one’s high school reunions hit the twenty-somethings. I waited too long. Plus I am a fraidy-lady.
We just got back from a family vacation in Deer Valley, Utah, a place which makes it about as easy to ski as it’s going to get. On our first morning there we could walk down the hall from our room right outside to our skis and boots, put them on, and ski down to the chair lift.
I didn’t do that, of course, because it involved skiing. Instead I clomped down three hundred steps in my vise-like concrete-block ski boots, carrying my skis and poles, to meet the rest of my family at the bottom of the mountain (just seven minutes after their arrival). My five-year-old went off to her ski school, “The Reindeer Club.” My husband and boys took off for the cliffiest cliff they could find. And I spent the morning white-knuckling it down the bunny slope with an instructor slack-jawed with disbelief.
INSTRUCTOR: Try having a little fun! You haven’t smiled at all yet.
ME: That’s cause I’m scared on the chair lifts.
INSTRUCTOR: You’re scared of THIS?
I will admit that in THIS PHOTO it appears that the “Snowflake Chair Lift” (which at the time was being utilized by my instructor, myself, and the aforementioned members of the Reindeer Club) basically takes you in a straight line. Up the mountain zero percent. I hasten to inform you that it goes two hundred feet in the air, thank you very much, and that it has absolutely no seatbelts.
I was almost at the top when my phone buzzed with my husband hastening to inform me that my second-grader had just skied his first black diamond.
After six hours with the instructor, I was able to turn (sort of), stop (eventually), and make it to the bottom of the bunny slope alive. For the last fifteen minute of those six hours, I may- MAY- have actually enjoyed myself, or at least patted myself on the back for how far I had come.
Which is when I reunited with my children. “Yay!” they shouted. “You’re ready to go down Success with us!”
SEAMUS: Mom! You’ll have so much more fun because the hill is way longer!
ME: Yeah, but sweetheart, I don’t want to ski longer. Every time I get to the bottom of the bunny slope I can’t believe I’m still alive.
CONNOR: You can do it, Mom!
Since I’m less sure of that, we all ride the Snowflake Chair Lift together for one trip down the bunny slope so those assembled can make sure I’m ready. I put on my bravest game face.
On our brief ride:
ME: Connor, how many times did you ski before you stopped being afraid?
My son looks at me blankly.
CONNOR: …I was never afraid.
Thanks for the talk.
We get to the top. The boys full-on slalom to the bottom, hockey-stop on a dime while I’m still willing myself to get started. Maggie careens down the hill at top speed, without fear, without POLES. (Membership in the Reindeer Club has its privileges.)
My whole family watches while I knock-knee my way down the hill sideways. The continents drift. New glaciers are formed. I reach the bottom and manage to stop right by my husband’s side, to my delighted relief. He smiles at me.
DAVID: Guess who’s ready to go down Success!
DAVID: … Maggie.
Yup. Off to Success they all went without me, Seamus crying hot angry tears that I wouldn’t come. It broke my heart that he couldn’t understand my fear. But better for him he didn’t.
So here’s my question. Should I keep at it? Might there be a point where I start enjoying myself? Will I ever be as good as my five-year-old?