1987! Freshman year in college. We had a giant extended-family Christmas in Vermont (the second of two). We arrived on my birthday, which was a great way to turn 18. We made a cookie house and caroused. There are FABULOUS pictures of my parents sledding down the hill on a garbage can lid. I received my enormous Russian-English dictionary.
We also went skiing. Please note that this was in my pre–tai chi days, when I was … shall we say, not graceful. My floormates in my dorm kept count: I had seven major falls my freshman year in college, one of which was when I tripped over a car. I wasn’t looking where I was going. Obviously.
ANYway, my dad’s youngest sister and her husband were on the National Ski Patrol at the time, and the rest of the extended family all ski, sail, play hockey, and do all of those other Northeasterner types of things that we don’t cotton to in the South. But I had been in the ski club in junior high and enjoyed it, despite the constant falling over.
We went to Killington, where I kept taking wrong turns and ending up on downhill skis on cross-country trails, which is not so much fun as it is exhausting. Killington is very large. I got lost a lot. Thankfully, at day’s end I was able to find my family without their having to scour the place.
After a day to recover, we went to Suicide Six. What is it with Vermont ski places and death? I suspect a plot.
Early in the day, I fell over and was lifted out of the snow by a man who did ski ballet and thus skied without poles. He nobly attempted to teach me how to stay upright, to no avail. All these many years later, it finally occurs to me that he was probably flirting. Go figure. Eventually he zipped away, and he zipped downhill past me twice more before I made it to the bottom (covered in snow, of course).
Later in the day, I took a wrong turn on the beginner slope and ended up on a black-diamond slope in the middle of a mogul field. Virginia’s Mogul Skiing Method: hitch across the slope sideways, balancing with your uphill hand against the moguls. Hop down to face the other direction and repeat for approx. 17.3 years until you reach the bottom of the hill. Then have a lie-down to recover.
At the end of the day, my aunt and uncle gathered us all up for a last run together. Halfway down, at a twisty part with a dropoff of about 20 feet on one side, I hit a patch of ice and fell backwards, so that my skis were on the ground and I was lying on them, knees in the air, careening down the hill at a high rate of speed. My aunt and uncle flanked me to keep me from falling off the edge. At the bottom of the hill, my aunt whipped off her hat. “I’m not taking you skiing any more!” she said, “It’s too much like being on patrol!”
Several years later, I told her this story, and she laughed and laughed. “You really were a spaz,” she said.
At least I don’t trip over cars anymore.