Coming Down the Mountain

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Hello! It’s me… I’m just wondering if after all these years, you’d like to… read. A blog post.

How ARE you? It has been so long. Happy New Year, by the way. Nope, I didn’t make resolutions this year so THAT’S been one less thing at which to fail.

How were the holidays? And yes, I AM including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in there, because we did something super fun for the long weekend this year. I mean, aside from an in-depth family discussion about civil rights and Dr. King’s historical contributions.

Me: Nib, do you know anything about Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Nib: Yeah, he was a guy who made people stop doing stuff separately and wanted people to do everything together.
Me: Um, OK, that’s a good start.

We also went skiing in Vermont.

And by “we,” I mean, “not me.”

I do not ski. Despite living in Colorado for a few years. Despite having four siblings who enjoy (to different degrees) sliding down mountains on slippery boards of various sizes. Despite being a very partial owner of a ski house in Vermont, I still don’t ski.

tried to ski. In my memory, the story goes like this:

It was FREEZING the day my sister, Lori, took my Dad and I skiing for the first time. I fell a million times and everything hurt. After minimal instruction, she brought us up a chair lift, which almost killed us, and then on a double black diamond trail. My Dad made a few surprisingly controlled turns before propelling down the mountain in a straight line, quickly gaining speed while heading for trees. The whole time, he was screaming, “I am out of control! I am out of control!” My sister chased after him leaving me stranded and alone on top of a scary mountain without the knowledge or skill required to get down. I MAY have taken my skis off and walked most of the way. Frostbite ensued.

In reality, the story goes like this:

It was beautiful, sunny the day my sister, Lori, took my Dad and I skiing the first time. We spent a good portion of the first day going up that little moving ramp with all the preschoolers and coming down the bunny hill veeeeerrrrrrrrrrrry slooooooooowly. I couldn’t possibly have fallen because I was barely moving. If I WAS on the ground it was because I had slowly lowered myself there to avoid acceleration of any type.

After many, many hours practicing, my sister (half-dead from boredom) decided we were ready for a real trail. She brought us up on a chair lift (which I think really did almost kill us but I’m pretty sure that’s a rite of passage for first timers) and to the designated trail.*

*Now, it’s worth noting that in reality, the degree of difficulty of the trail remains debated to this day. While I doubt it was truly a double black diamond, it was definitely above our skill level. Although to my sister’s defense, any real mountain trail was probably above our skill level. Surprisingly, Dad and I were not naturals. This came as quite the shock to us, given our God-granted athletic prowess.

I remember standing at the top of the trail looking down – and I really was by myself because the part about my Dad careening off and my sister chasing after him really is true – thinking how the hell am I going to get down this thing?

It looked something like this:

me

And that’s all I remember. Probably because there was so much pain involved in the descent, I blocked it out. I obviously made it down eventually but I can guarantee it wasn’t easy or pretty. And nothing about it made me ever want to ski again.

(Oh and I also tried snowboarding once. Once. And that’s all we need to say about that.)

So, I don’t ski. But as previously mentioned, the majority of my family members do, so it didn’t come as a surprise when the Loud One, after hearing her cousins all talk about their various mountain adventures, wanted to give it a try.

We signed her up for ski school a few years back putting aside our doubts that she would even get the ski boots on her feet, never mind enjoy the sport. (Keep in mind, this was the girl who at the time, wouldn’t even put on basic clothing if it wasn’t super soft, seamless and stretched to the point that hardly any of it touched her body. Ski gear seemed impossible.) But she did it. And she loved it.

Lori and my brother-in-law, Scott, have generously brought her to Vermont a couple of times each winter since then. And now she’s a skier.

Last weekend, our whole family went up to Vermont for the first time in two years. We dropped all three kids at ski school for full day instruction and enthusiastically began our own busy day. Agenda: Leisurely breakfast and coffee, nap, read, more coffee, more leisure, more napping, more reading. I love skiing!

Lori and Scott brought the Loud One and the Nibbit back out after their instruction was over (for, as the Nib called it, “free ski”) and when they were done for the day, they showed me a video of my kids on the mountain.

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Well. I MAY have cried a little bit.

There was my Loud One, easily and dare I say, gracefully, making turns, gliding down what looked to me like a crazy steep hill! And the Nibbit picking up as much speed as he could get away with, stopping with his “pizza wedge,” waving at the camera, loving every minute.

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It felt strange watching that video… I saw that my kids were participating in a world that is so foreign to me. They were learning how to explore mountain tops, travel at high speeds and navigate obstacles. They were learning how to do something and more importantly, how to love something, that had absolutely nothing to do with us, their parents.

They’ll go on to do many things without us, of course… sports, travel, college (although can’t you totally see KJ as the old Dad playing beer pong in the fraternity basement?) but I will always remember watching the ski videos and thinking, “Woah! How the hell did they learn to do that??”

I credit Aunt Lori and Uncle Scott for introducing them to this world – both by convincing me that I should let them try it despite my protests that “… we’re just not a skiing family” and also by literally taking them to the mountain – and I’m so grateful.

When I picked them up from their lessons after the second day, they both reported in about their experience…

The Loud One said, “Mom, it is SO beautiful at the top of the mountain! You should see it… the snow, the trees… it’s so peaceful and amazing.”

And the Nib said, “I was the first in my group to make it down so I won.”

And that just about sums up my skiers perfectly.

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