Sunday, June 04, 2006

Boys That Ski

I come from a land of sporty, competitive freaks. It’s the kind of town where you can walk into your office on a Monday morning, limping and stiff and your co-workers won’t ask what kind of accident you suffered. Instead, they’ll ask which trail you rocked over the weekend.

It’s reflected in my own family. One brother in the Athens games, one once scouted for the ski, a little sister who started beating my swim times way too young for my taste. In keeping with my prime directive to be a contrarian, rather than amp up my swim practice I quit. I became a walker in a town of runners. A contemplative in a town of actives.

Still, the sportyness is in my blood and I like to keep a hand, or foot in. When some friends suggested a pack camping trip to the Black Canyon near Gunnison, Colorado, I thought “Great!” The fact that the trail we’d take was called “Dead Man’s Folly” should have been my first clue.

But I had to go. Sure, it was my first ever pack trip and I’d be required to carry a sixty pound pack down nearly vertical trails. But I’d be with my uber-outdoorsy friend, Lisa. She always knew what to do. This was important because I wanted to seem like a cool, sporty chick. You see, joining us on the trip was lovely, lovely Patrick.

Lisa, Patrick and I had been working together for over a year and I considered each of them my best friends in their own ways. But I’d grown a special warm spot for Patrick. He was a redhead first of all - big plus in my book. He was from an intellectual PBS-loving family. He could perform his own home repairs. What more does a girl need? I could tell the feeling was mutual but neither of us was about to break the No Dating Co-workers rule.

We started at the top of the gorge which is roughly the same depth as the Grand Canyon. Seemed like a harmless enough trail at first. But soon it tilted and disappeared all together. We made our way down by sliding on our rumps, holding onto poison ivy branches and scraping our hands on the sun-scorched rocks. I wanted so badly to shine on the trip. I wanted to show how strong and tough I was. By the time we got to the bottom of the gorge and I collapsed into the river crying my eyes out, I was pretty sure any such illusion was out the window.

The fact that Patrick and I started dating within a week of me leaving that job told me he didn’t care about such superficial things. He liked me for the person he saw; maybe even what he saw for us together. I was thrilled.

Things were great too. Until winter. In an uber-sporty mountain town, you see, people do crazy things in the winter. They strap fiberglass creations to their feet and actually go out into the cold and hurtle down mountains. I for one have never seen the point of being outside when it’s less than fifty degrees Fahrenheit. As a kid I had been forced to undertake such ridiculousness and I can honestly say I wasn’t terrible. However, at nine I made a bold declaration to my family that as soon as I was in control of my own winter destiny I would never, ever ski again. And damn if I didn’t stick to that vow for nearly twenty years.

Then Patrick came along. A dedicated telemark skier and all around adventurer. Dammit. Why did he have to be a redhead? I was smitten and prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice: break my no-ski vow. I went out and bought all the stupid puffy clothes. I borrowed skis. I made sure I had little glove warmers and everything. And suddenly Patrick, who had been so excited about bringing me into his ski world, decided he was tired of teaching girlfriends to ski and that I should have wanted to do it before he came into my life. This was a complete curve ball.

We sat on my couch watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and something snapped in Patrick. He began talking as if the whole skiing thing was actually a big deal. He was talking deal breaker. How could someone who loved me be ready to flush all we had over a silly sport? Loved me, indeed. I realized that was the problem: he didn’t know that’s what this was. Silly boy.

He finished another deal breaker sentence and I jumped in: “But I love you.” There. That would fix everything.

His eyes dilated. He grabbed his jacket.

“If you need to call me for closure or anything you can. Otherwise, see ya.” And just like that he was gone from my life with the winter wind and that damn cold, white stuff.

My sister happened to call right then and heard my sniffles of shock. She duly arrived moments later with our dear friends Ben and Jerry.

I never saw Patrick again. Seriously.

Happy now in my LA life of perpetual summer I know I got something important from it all. If you’re going to be a contrarian, it’s best to make sure your chosen mate is one too. And if he’s not cool enough to hang with that, the L word won’t fix a thing. Instead it’s an effective way to weed out the ones who don’t really love you for you. And isn’t that really the point?



Blogger Loving Seester said...

Ben & Jerry are great! I could use a little Cherry Garcia in honor of what my blog would be titled "Boys who eat Chicken and Rice ..... ONLY" ...It's pretty cool to read these past blogs and see who you are now and who you were then.

I'm very proud of you...not sure what that means coming from your little Seester who's always been proud!!!

Love you (and as MOM would say), today, tomorrow, and :-)

6:45 PM  

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