This past weekend, we went off for our first ski trip of the season. The drive up to Vermont was long and cold and boring and unpleasant. But, it was a veritable picnic compared with what we woke up to Saturday. Freezing rain. Black ice. In the words of Seinfeld's soup nazi:
"No ski for you!"
The good news is that I would have company all day. The bad news? I would have company all day.
I gave up schussing several years ago. Even in the finest conditions, I find it scary, expensive, scary, cold, scary, uncomfortable, and scary. (Did I mention scary?) So, you might think that ski trips would be dull, right? Wrong! As soon as I wave my husband and teenage daughter off to the mountain, the fun begins. Yoga at the resort's spa (with an extremely handsome instructor), a nice sauna or hot tub, steaming cups of coffee, an afghan (blanket, not canine) and some book I've longed to read but haven't found the time. If I feel like it, I meet the intrepid athletes for lunch at the base lodge restaurant. If I feel like it, I browse some of the boutiques in the village. If I feel like it, I go for a long walk through the woods.
I say, "if I feel like it," because, essentially, I don't have to do anything unless I feel like it. Heaven.
So, not this trip. We toasted bagels and hung out with our friends until late morning, catching up and sharing funny things we found online. (Between the four adults and one teen, we had five smart phones, two ipads and three laptops.) Then we piled into an SUV and headed north for lunch and shopping.
After some "artisanal" pizza (if that's not the most overused word of the century, I don't know what is), we drove into Burlington. With one college-bound teenager in the car and two more back home (our friends have twin boys), we decided to look at University of Vermont.
If you've been paying attention, dear reader, it won't surprise you that our first stop was the UVM Equine Center. My daughter has already toured the enormous UKY and the tiny Otterbein. With nearly 13,000 students, UVM was right in the middle. In fact, if Goldilocks visited the three schools, she might declare it to be "just right."
This particular Mamma Bear was pleased to see how enthusiastic her cub was. I know it's her decision, not mine. I know that Kentucky and Ohio are only a few hours away by plane. But, the prospect of my daughter staying in New England, attending a school I can actually drive to, and maybe even joining us for future ski trips ... well, can you blame me for smiling?
The equine center was gorgeous, and the two work-study students we ran into were informative and welcoming. They suggested we stop by the student center too. I could tell that my daughter was imagining herself there. I tried not to gush too much.
We spent the bulk of the afternoon in downtown Burlington. It's a great little city with shops and pubs, coffee and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. My daughter raided the local Urban Outfitters, our friends looked at ski jackets, and I bought a hippy-chick batik skirt (when in Rome ...). Again, I could tell my daughter was projecting how it would feel to live near this college town. Again, I held my peace.
On Sunday morning, the sun came out. It was too late to ski, so my girlfriend and I ran into the picturesque town of Warren for some quick shopping. We both found great things on sale, and as we were paying, the clerk overheard us talking about the impromptu college visit.
"You never really get over it," she confided. "Mine is ... well, she's 31 now. But I still remember how hard it was. No one really warns you, and you're supposed to keep your chin up. But, you never get over it. Then they come back and they're an adult."
My friend, nodded and I knew she was thinking of her boys waiting back at home. "I know I'll cry every day," she said.
I agreed, and mentioned the end of a wonderful movie, Enough Said. At the airport, as they watch their daughter leave for school, two parents (amicably divorced, but that's a different part of the story) comfort each other: "We made a good person."
I think we've made a good person too. And, somehow I'll survive this parting that's ahead. It occurred to me, as it often does, that having a child is the greatest act of faith.
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