Three weeks ago, I accepted a job in Boulder, Colorado. The day before I started the long, long drive, I sat in a small town restaurant with my good friend and ski buddy, Doug.
His hands were wrapped around a cup of coffee, steaming in the cool room. Mine were doing their best not to clutch at the cold ginger ale.
We talked about lots of things, as friends and ski buddies do. Hopes and fears. You know, the usual. And we talked, too, about what our lives would be like without skiing.
We’d have so much more money, we commiserated. We wouldn’t be tied to the mountains, incapable of moving to any number of lovely, interesting places in the world where mountains and winter simply don’t exist. Our lives would, perhaps, be a little more simple if we weren’t head over heels in love with skiing. Half an hour of whining and we both came to the same conclusion.
Neither of us would change a god damn thing.
Skiing sings a siren’s song. It echoes and rattles around inside of us, and the longer we wait, the more the sound drives us mad. Skiing, its freedom, fear, and power composes melodies that ensnare the part of us that seeks novelty, challenge, and adrenaline in equal measure. Skiing demands us.
Last night in Boulder, far away from my Green Mountains, I made the annual pilgrimage to the Warren Miller ski movie premier. As images of powerful skiers like Ingrid Backstrom, Chris Davenport, and XFGIUNBFslashing big mountains and endless powder stashes, I felt the tumble of pre-season emotion, jitters and excitement, roll over me like rooster tails of snow.
Am I good enough to ride these mountains?
Can I keep up?
Seriously, am I ever going move to Chamonix?
And, over it all, like a touch of static blurring the edges of a favorite song on the radio: I am so happy it’s finally winter.
In the words of Johnny Mo in this year’s film, No Turning Back: It’s like falling in love with someone who promises to leave after four months.
Yeah, it is like that. But they’ll come crawling back next year.