For a while I will be running a series called, Lessons of the Mountain. These stories won’t necessarily be about my recent trip to Tahoe as much as they will be a composite of memories and experiences that have taught me invaluable life lessons. If you are like most of the east coasters I know, and thoughts of skiing make your lips snarl, cause your body to repulsively shake in feign coldness or your eyebrows rise in a you-got-to-be-kidding-me type way, I suggest you just relax. The beauty of reading is being able to experience something without actually having to do it.
Before this series officially begins, I think it’s important to know that my family introduced me to the mountain. I come from a big family, the fourth in a lineup of five. I was on my first set of sticks when I was two. When I was learning how to walk I was learning how to ski. And, every winter my parents took us on a ski vacation. Mom and dad packed us kids into our big red van and loaded it with skis, poles, boots, suitcases and board games. God love them, it was a long car ride to Killington, VT. We passed the hours playing games like Head of the Class and Scattergories, we spilled almost as much soda as we drank, and insults were doled out like Easter candy. It was only when my Dad stopped the van to buy a case of beer that I knew it was safe to ask, “Are we there yet?”
Our ski vacation was regimented by ski school. Each of us was enlisted in half-day ski lessons, parents included. We had to be at ski school by 9:00am. Getting out the door with all of our gear and lunches was the daily challenge. My mother remembers me being the first one ready at the door; only my goggles were on upside down, my gloves on the opposite hands and my ski pants on inside out. “I’m ready Dad,” I’d say with a big grin on my face while he rubbed his hand through his hair.
In the morning we went to school and in the afternoon we skied together as a family stopping along the hill to wait for each other. On the chairlift my dad drilled us with questions about our lessons wanting to ensure he made a good investment. He also liked to act like a ski instructor pointing out techniques of skiers below and trying to have us do turning drills on the hill. My older brother wanted nothing to do with this; he spent his afternoon pissing off my father and trying to get down the mountain with the least amount of turns possible. Speed was his thing and man did he go fast. I’d watch him take off like a torpedo with absolutely no fear of falling or dying, and I followed behind with chattering skis trying to catch up. One time I watched him run straight into a chairlift pole, it was the most ridiculous thing to witness; he literally crossed over the trail and went straight for the pole as if he had every intention of hitting it. When my dad asked him why he crashed into the pole my brother just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I wanted to know what it would feel like.”
“Whatever happened to my Y chromosome?” I heard my dad mutter as he skied away in disbelief.
Snowy Memory Lane,
A Warrior Princess