Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Ski Amigos


I have a confession to make. I am not an "outdoorswoman."

I have another confession to make. I don't care.

That said, we always want our offspring to experience — if not, excel at — the things that we missed out on. This is how I feel about skiing.

I grew up in the "Big Apple." There was always plenty to do — theatre, music, museums. But, skiing wasn't high on the list. In fact, until I was 23, I had only gone on a single ill-fated high school ski trip. One of my best friends actually lost a ski while she was on the lift; it fell down into the thick woods below. She had to walk down the length of the mountain, and we distracted the science teacher who had brought us while she slipped her lone ski under the bus and checked her name off the rental list before heading back to the city. (Uh ... what's the statute of limitations on missing ski equipment?)

After I graduated from college, I briefly dated a medical student who was a champion skier and coached the Connecticut Special Olympics ski team. He was understandably patient with me, but my performance on the trails was pretty pitiful. A couple of boyfriends later, my now husband had more success. I was so in love that I conquered my fear of speed, gravity and broken bones. We skied every winter until one year when I felt a little too queasy to hit the slopes.

"I think I have food poisoning," I told the other women at the ski house.

"We think you're pregnant," they told me. They were right.

Our trips to Vermont continued after we had the baby. In fact, there are adorable pictures of our daughter and our friends' twin sons in matching footsie pajamas communing on the carpet at the ski house. (The kind of pictures that will make excellent blackmail material someday.) But, I was always too busy to go back to skiing myself. Often, I brought work with me, but I also enjoyed afternoon hikes, shopping, and relaxing by the fire with a book and a glass of wine.

My daughter started ski school at three years old. She was a Sugarbush "Mini Bear," and from day one, she was absolutely fearless. She couldn't wait to get on the slopes. She couldn't wait to start using poles. She couldn't wait to try moguls and black diamonds. Today, she schusses down the mountain alongside (or sometimes in front of!) her father. If I go to meet them for lunch, I watch her with great pride (and my heart in my throat).

A couple of years ago, my daughter asked me to try skiing again. I think she loved it so much that she felt bad that I was missing something. So, I signed up for a lesson. It was less than a success. Let's just say that it wasn't like riding a bicycle. I felt cold; I felt scared. And, I had spent a lot (a lot!) of money to feel that way. My ski days were, I'm afraid, over.

Fast forward. This weekend, true to form, my family is enjoying the great outdoors while I sit in our cozy chalet. (It's only ten a.m., so I'm not imbibing in vino yet, but I'm enjoying a cup of coffee and all my other favorite ski weekend activities.) Music playing, a gorgeous view of the mountain, many months of New Yorker magazines to catch up on. No cell phone. No email. Nice!

When the skiers are finished for the day (we're here with another family who have one beautiful daughter older than mine and an adorable one younger), I'll join them for some apr├Ęs ski snacks — maybe fondue at the mountain's French bistro or chips and salsa at the Mexican place across the road. Y'know, you build up quite an appetite skiing (or, in my case, reading and relaxing).

I definitely don't miss skiing, but I definitely would miss these weekends. I'm happy that my daughter has something special that she shares with her father. I'm pleased that she is strong and fit and courageous. I'm glad that she has a healthy hobby that she can enjoy throughout her life.

And, I can't wait to hear about it all when she's done.

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