As it turns out, there are things that I like the idea of, more than the actual thing itself. I found this out yesterday at Brighton Ski Resort, laying on the ground on the side of the mountain for the fourth time in an hour and a half. I really, really want to like skiing, but I don't think I do.
Ryan, Brad, and Noah took up skiing last winter. Well, the boys ski, Ryan tried skiing once and hated it, so he switched to snowboarding which he adores. Maybe "adores" is too girly a word for snowboarding - he thinks it's sick, is that better? I completely support this new family endeavor; in fact, it was my idea in the first place, and I love that the boys have something to do with their dad. Darcey's too young to learn yet, and Zack is technically old enough but has quite mastered the skill of "sucking it up" when something goes not quite right - in short, he cries too much for skiing. His tears would freeze to his little face. But I fully expect them to learn when they're older and eventually this will be a family activity that we can enjoy together.
Maybe we can do it together, but I don't think we'll all be enjoying it.
I want to enjoy skiing so badly, I really do. But I have this fear of speeding out of control down a steep mountain that kills any potential fun. My stomach starts churning on the lift and doesn't stop until I've made it to the bottom of the hill. I watch my kids ski, and they fly down these hills like their pants are on fire. Don't they know how much the tree is going to hurt when they smack into it?? I think that's what makes this so unfun for me - the knowledge of all the things that could go wrong. It's one more burden of being an intelligent person, I suppose. :)
Ryan and I went to Brighton yesterday because my brother Tim is here visiting for the week and he watched the kids for us. Ryan was excited to take me to Brighton, where he bought season passes for himself and the boys, but I had never been to before. After a couple of runs down the very crowded bunny slope, I decided that I remembered enough from last year to head to the real slopes, so we went up the Majestic and Snake Creek Express lifts until we were at the very top of the mountain.
Can I say, Utah has some wonderful mountain views. Not Switzerland beautiful, but beautiful in it's own, browner, way. What I wouldn't give for this state to be more green, like Switzerland or even Maryland for that matter. But I digress.
So there I was, at the top of the mountain, and the only thing between me and certain death was two slats of wood strapped to my feet and the grace of God. That's when the self-talk starts to sound like this: "What on earth are you thinking, being up here? Is life so bad that you need to throw yourself down a mountain at 30 mph? Did this seem like a good idea to you? Or do you just like pain?"
Well, I don't take that kind of talk from anyone, especially not myself, so down I went. Also, down was my only option at that point. Ryan stayed with me for a little bit, but I went so slow that he was always ahead of me, and it kind of didn't matter if he was 10 feet in front of me or 1,000 when I fell because he couldn't get back up to where I was to help me. I tried to cope with the steepness of the slope by doing my nice S-turns back and forth, back and forth, but I was absolutely scared to death. And this was supposedly a green run! Whatever! At one point I just stepped down the slope sideways until the hill was more gentle again.
I tried all of my mental techniques that normally help me through challenging things. Positive self-talk wasn't working (all I could say to myself was "Okay, get up, okay, don't get too close to the trees, okay, keep going, no, don't stop, it's okay, trees! Trees! Okay, get back up...) I turned on my ipod, but the book I was listening to was in the middle of a swordfight and was a little too tense. So I thought, happy music might help. I turned on the soundtrack to Mamma Mia, and that was peppy. But none of those things stopped me from falling, or made the ground somehow level out under my feet.
The worst was when I had lost Ryan and was convinced that I had taken the wrong path down the hill, because clearly the path I was on was more advanced than the green beginner's run I should have been on. (It was the right one, though.) So I'm inchworming my way down, and these two kids about Brad's age fly past me and then stop. The boy looks up at me and asks, "Are you a beginner?" Gritting my teeth, I say, "No, actually, this is my second year." He say, "Be careful, there's some really steep parts here." I tell him thanks, which in my mind was the only word I could come up with other than "Why you smart-aleck little jerk, thanks for the 'warning,' I suppose you couldn't have told me BEFORE I got on the lift?" 'Thanks' was about the only thing I was thinking that I could actually say out loud.
It took me well over an hour to get down to the bottom of the hill. Maybe longer. But I got down, found Ryan, told him I was done, and took my skis off. I fell one more time as I was walking - WALKING! - to the car, and it was literally all I could do not to throw my poles and scream obscenities at the top of my lungs. And I am totally not that kind of person, but oh my gosh I was about to be.
I settled for crying, which is the kind of person I am. In the car, I blubbered for about 15 minutes, not only because it had been really, really hard to get down that mountain, but because I'm not the person I want to be. I want to be someone who flys down, who is in perfect control and isn't scared of anything happening. I want to talk about skiing and look forward to skiing and be jealous of someone who is going when I can't. I want to love it. But I just don't.
I think the key is that I'm not an adrenaline junkie. I despise roller coasters for that very reason. In fact, I think a great part of my life is devoted to avoiding adrenaline, especially in life-threatening situations. I'll take my adrenaline in something a little tamer - board games, for instance, or watching Jeopardy, or maybe a spelling bee. Or those last five minutes of a test when you aren't sure you are going to finish in time. That's my kind of rush. Hurtling down a mountain on purpose? No, thank you.
So I've got some pre-paid day passes that I bought at a discount and a season's ski rental and a super-cute matching ski coat and pants set that are all the accoutrements of the hobby that I don't enjoy. I don't give up easily, though - the wellspring of eternal optimism that is constantly bubbling under the surface keeps bursting forth with these great ideas like, "Maybe all I need is another lesson, and then I'll like it!" Well, if they give lessons on "How To Be Less of a Chicken" or "Convincing Yourself That Scared = Fun" or "Making Trees Not Hurt When You Hit Them" then sign me up! I might try it one more time, but for now I'm putting it with scary movies and Thai food as one of those things that I wish I liked, but just don't.