to be really unpopular with a few people
I will let that sink in for a moment. Because, for some of you that means that you have lost all faith in me and you think that I am now completely uncool and old.
I am uncool and old. I'm ok with that, I kept it a secret for a while but now that I am ok with it I am ok with whatever you are going to throw at me. It's only fair to explain to you what happened. It was a slow descent that started a few winters ago and ended as hard as the hit you take when your snowboard hits above your head when you wipe out scorpion-style.
My friend and I surprised our best friend with a snowboarding trip for a milestone birthday. It was a really fun time, we booked a hotel where there was a waterslide and we paid for her lift ticket. I got on my board and was ready to ride down the hill, except complete fear struck me. I don't know what came over me. I was pushing way outside of my comfort zone and I couldn't keep up with anyone. We went off trail, we were under some abandoned chair lift and there were trees and rocks and it required a lot of manouvering, so instead of pulling up my bootstraps like I would normally do, I bawled my eyes out in complete frustration.
I hate being mediocre at things, and I think in that exact moment I knew that I would never be "good" at snowboarding. I could be alright, I could make my way down a hill but I would never be good at it. That's when the rift began.
One frigid spring, my husband was in a fun race to raise awareness for disability in downhill sports. It was a lot of fun... for him. I went along and cheered, but for the life of me, I could not get my body to switch to toe-side. I was frustrated (as you can imagine) and I parked it at the start of the race. I have a white toque, a very light mint-green jacket, white snow pants, a white board, white boots, and even white goggles (this is going somewhere). I sat there, frustrated and huffing, when I heard a yell. The guide-skier was yelling at me to move, and I hollered out just in time - a visually impaired skier nearly ploughed right through me, and for good reason, to her, I was invisible. My outfit completely camouflaged me. I felt like a jerk.
I know that wasn't the snowboard's fault, but my inability to turn caused me to be frustrated, and I took a "pep talk" break, nearly injuring myself and a fellow snow bunny in the process. It could have been ugly.
Then I went to the mountains with my husband and his brothers. The conditions were putrid. It was 10 degrees for two days before we arrived, and it had been raining. Just right for a nice slushy puddle. It was foggy and a sticky, icy, sloppy mess of a hill and I was lacking all confidence to do anything. I shakily strapped my right foot in (I am goofy) and grabbed on to my husband as we boarded the lift. I was a ball of anxiety the entire way up the mountain, trying to remember anything about the mechanics of snowboarding. My last two times out were not exactly the best training sessions and I was wobbly at best. We flipped up the arm bar, the dismount approached, and my husband said "left" and I lost all ability to tell my left from right. I just grabbed his arm and let him drag me down the small hill. I dug in my unattached foot the whole way, putting the breaks on the speeding board of death.
I hesitantly buckled my left foot in and we were off. We were off. "Honey, we can go down now." Nothing in me moved. I just stood there wondering how hard the ground was. I could hear my husband telling me the plan but I was frozen trying to remember how to turn to the left. As mentioned, I am goofy-footed, which means I ride with my right foot forward, that is until I have to turn left, then I do a 180 with my board and I go down regular-footed. I have a real issue with turning the front of my body away from the direction I am going in. It is all very counter-intuitive this snowboarding business. So I, as my best friend and I called it before we knew there was a different term, "Granny styled it" the whole way down to the chair lift that would take us to the summit. Yay!
I was told to "pick up speed" so I could make it to the chair lift. Because it's also really smart to put a chair lift on top of a small hill. Seriously, who designs these things? I replied that I would try my best. But picking up speed meant not switch-footing between regular and goofy.
I walked up the icy hill to the chair lift. It was easier than peddling with one loose foot for the 500 m. It took about 20 minutes for us to get down to the lift, and what joy, my party waited for me. I was mortified. I would have arrived sooner and in better spirits had I gone down on my belly. I also hate making people wait. I don't like being bad at things, and I especially hate making people wait for me.
I strapped my foot in and got in line for the lift. There was no line. There was nothing in front of me. I let the first chair go to my brothers in law. "Oh no, I insist, after you, by all means". Then the next chair came... and went. And my husband said, "we'll catch the next one" and he smiled, questioningly at me. I grabbed his arm like he was leading me to certain death. I don't think he felt it though, since it was just his jacket that I clutched in my fingers like it was my salvation.
The lift seemed to last an hour.
The hill loomed in front of me, my ears went thick with cotton and I could barely hear his voice. I think he said left again, I just smiled and grabbed his arm, he lifted the bar and I shakily descended toward the hill. I tried my best to not fall. We sat, we told the others to just go on ahead. At this time I was honest with my husband. The conditions were brutal and my ability was substantially below my expectations. I said that this would be it for me for today. He agreed. He isn't a diehard like his brothers, he enjoys it, but he doesn't live for it. He is also very kind and sweet and would hate to think that I was going to spend the rest of the day alone.
We departed down the hill. They send you toward the green run on what feels like a plank with deep precipices on each side. For real. I'm talking cliffs on each side of a narrow path that leads you to the green run. But you're at the top of a mountain and the green run requires a lot of switchbacks. And, as we have learned, turning is not my strong suit, and green runs require some speed in order for them to actually work, otherwise you get stuck in a lot of spots and have to peddle. A good green run should help you work on linking turns and eventually carving. Except when it is an icy-slushy-sticky mess of a lane that drops, you got it, straight into a double black.
And that's where we ended up. The green run wound alllllll the way around the entire stinking mountain, and I, for the life of me, could not stay on the path. We went straight down into the double black. And the lovely conditions made trees and rocks stick out of the sticky slop that was supposed to be fluffy snow. So I took a pounding on my knees. I fell a few times in places where, if you were watching me, you would wonder if I hit a booby trap because there was absolutely nothing to take me down, at all, anywhere. I think the snowboard just did it to ruin any piece of confidence I had in my system.
So there I was, side slipping down the mountain as toddlers whizzed past me, doing really bad at something, with my husband patiently waiting for me. The two things I hate. And my knees hurt, my legs hurt, my arms hurt from pushing myself back up, I felt very, very, very old and worst, my pride was broken. I sat down. I had finally made it back on to the green run, you would think I would have seen this as a small victory but no, beside this path was yet another cliff, and my fight-flight-freeze part of my brain took over and I sat down. There was no way I was making it around this bend without falling off the cliff and dying. And I started to cry. Not like, "oh poor me I can't do this" sniffle-tears, I was like a kid that whacked it's head and takes that big breath of air and you wonder how much air they're going to take in before they start wailing, and you wait for it and wait for it, and then it is louder and longer than you expected. Like a baby. A terrible, miserable, grown-up sized baby.
I heard people coming and I had to scooch my butt out of the way by crab walking back off the path. And my arms went quite deep in the only powder on the hill behind me and I thought, I hate this.
Then I got angry. I whipped my body around, and I went down the cliff, tears blurring my vision, my only thought was that I had to get off the mountain and distance myself from my board before I went crazy trying to break it in the woods. I slid slowly down the hill, Granny styling it the whole way. And every time I took a break it seemed like the base got further away. It took us almost an hour to get down. I laughed at the thought of paying for torture. I had a few choice words for my board and I probably would have left it at the mountain if it weren't a gift from my husband.
I enjoy the snow and mountains, so I will try skiing, but you can see why I can never see snowboarding again, it makes me feel like I will never ever be good at it and people would have to wait for me to try to learn and I just will not make people wait that long, I only go once a year! At this rate I would be 80 by the time I could carve.
Head held high, it's not you, it's me, and we can never be friends.