Learning To Ski & 23
The first time I went skiing was when I was 19.
My parents moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to Park City, Utah. My mom was convinced if she gave me (read: forced a) love for the mountains, I would want to come and visit all the time. So out west I went for Christmas break.
She kept calling me her ski bunny, which I hated, and even writing it down I still do. She said I was going to be the best skier - what she conveniently forgot was that me and coordination have had a difficult relationship. I constantly have bruises on my shins from running into things. I've broken dishes, bones, and the oven twice - once on Thanksgiving, which she did not have a sense of humor about.
All was forgotten to make me the skier she just knew I was born to be.
We lugged our rental ski's and our newly bought outlet snow jackets to the mountain. If you're an inexperienced skier, just getting dressed is a chore. Everything is heavy, your boots are uncomfortable, and figuring out how to walk to the lift and put on your skis is unnatural. There is nothing as humbling as learning to ski.
Us getting out of the car and to the lift was a scene from a comedy. One where the actor falls and people laugh. Instead of it being for entertainment it was my life and instead of people laughing they were looking at us with pity. They knew we had no idea what we were doing, because we didn't.
We clicked our boots in the skis and I got onto the lift up to First Timer, the bunny hill. For the record there are no bunny hills in Utah. The whole time my mom, who hadn't skied in 20 years, was promising she could teach me. I struggled off the lift, did an awkward walk-glide-skate to the top of the hill and looked down.
My stomach dropped. All I could see for miles were snow topped mountains (see stock image above). Stunning, glorious, majestic. A reminder how small you are, how finite you are, all before you travel down it with two slick boards attached to your shoes.
I can quote verbatim my mom's ski lesson once we got to the top, "French fries go, Pizza stop. Don't lean back!!" she showed me quickly with her hands as she took off down the bunny slope. She swooped left to right slowly and controlled, looking back at me encouraging me to go.
"Oh," I thought, "This is not difficult." The last positive thought I had for the entire afternoon.
My ski's pointed in French Fry position, I went down First Timer. 10 seconds in I was already crying. 20 seconds in I had already fallen. Pizza, for the first time in my life had let me down. I struggled up, reattached my ski's (still crying), and set off to French Fry again. This time I didn't stop, or slow down. I went straight down at what felt like a record speed, eyes shut tightly. I went down the whole hill with no control, and straight through the orange tape at the bottom.
I cracked an eye open, the blue sky ominously staring down at me. One leg was contorted sideways with a ski still attached. The other ski, 5ft above me. I sat up, still crying, and looked around and like the 19 year old I was started calling for my mom mid sob. It would have been embarrassing, but I had just experienced near death.
That was our first and only run that day. The next day my mom paid for ski school.
After a couple of days working with an instructor in a class of 12 year olds (let me repeat, nothing is as humbling as learning how to ski), I had perfected stopping, turning, and cutting into the snow. My mom and I went back up the mountain. This time, higher up to a run called Home Run. 4 miles of cat walks, not the most fun or challenging, but it felt like the Olympics for me.
Reluctantly I stared at the top, the same small feeling coming over me. Mom ready to go, gave a pep talk. "Hold your position, go as slow as you'd like... just go!" I fell every few minutes and it took us an hour and a half to go down the entire run, but I did it. She was right, too. I fell in love with the mountains that winter. And skiing. Now I only have one or two meltdowns every season.
It's my birthday, today. I always get very reflective on my birthday. It's a natural moment to pause and think of all you've experienced, how loved you are, and how sweet life is. I love encouragement from the people you admire the most celebrating your life, it's honey to a tired soul.
A really dear friend texted me today with some birthday love. Her message ended with, "I pray two words for you more than anything else, which is, hold fast." It triggered the memory of skiing for the first time with my mom.
The uncertainty of standing on top of a mountain, but the feeling you get when you conquer it. I will be the first one to tell you life is daunting, hard, and sometimes tragic. Yet, what seems daunting can be overcome by just holding your position, going as slow as you'd like, but going.
This year my prayer for my life is that I will not waver on my position, on my faith or on the truth I know. I'll hold my position. Hold fast. Whatever is scary, hard, or daunting will be scary, hard, and daunting, but I'll still go. Conquer whatever mountains
Sorry if it's cheesy, but it's my birthday so I can write whatever I want.
Also, it's Fat Tuesday, my birthday, AND Taco Tuesday all on the same day. I am a blessed girl.