Thursday, April 03, 2014

So Lame, Using the same Post on two differently themed Blogs. Oh Well...

Taos Ski Valley 2014 - year 8

I came into this ski week with very high expectations. I took my first lesson ever here 8 years ago this same week and have been coming back closing week every year. I had been progressing a little each year & could feel it a lot in my 6 days on the mountain. Two years ago I had gotten about two weeks skiing in on Mt. Hood and had gotten a lot faster so that my 7th year I felt very confident. Last summer I moved to Mt. Hood and got 40 days on skis before coming to Taos this time and expected to be put in a very high level class. I got here a day early and got a big day on the mountain before class started and for the first time did not feel intimidated by this macho & rugged peak. So when I got put in the same level class as last year during ski off (where the head of the ski school watches you do a few turns & assigns you to a class) I was shocked. I saw someone I had skied with for years in a higher level than me. I saw that there was only one class lower than me & couldn't believe what was happening. Did those 40 days not make me better? I was told that just time on skis made a difference but it apparently didn't. I wondered if I had not improved at all & what, if anything, I had gained by doing all that skiing. And it was hard: the decision to move someplace where I didn't know anyone, buy a cabin, buy snow tires & drive up to ski by myself in total fear & awkwardness. I met some folks on the mountain & we would meet up at the resort & ski together but they were at a much higher level than I was. I found one ski buddy & we started going up all the time. He was very fast & I asked him for help & he told me some things & made me feel lame for "not improving." We had some huge powder days & I couldn't ski it, and he would say "then you can't ski" & we would fight & grouse at each other driving down the mountain as I let my ability at this sport control my self esteem while he obsessively texted his girlfriend. What else did I have? I had defined myself by being an Antarctican for seven years. I was no longer an artist, no longer an old Austinite, felt lost in Oregon as it has never felt like "home" and was putting all my eggs in one basket. I really wanted to be an expert skier & felt that I had failed after putting in all those days.  Deep down none of this really felt like "me" but that was also what was so alluring about it - stepping into a life that was nothing like I'd ever been in before.

What is interesting to me now is WHY I want to be so good at this...I had never wanted to ski until I took my first snowboard lesson in 2006. I saw this energy and excitement on the mountain that was intoxicating. I failed so badly at my snowboard lesson that people suggested I take up skiing first. I had to wait til the next year though as I'd broken my tailbone on my one day out. I had never played a sport before. In junior high we had to do volleyball and softball & I was terrible at them. I was so scared in volleyball at how aggressive the other girls were that I made excuses to not play. I only liked track and gymnastics, finding out that I am not much of a team player. I started jogging in high school, started again more seriously after college & fell in love with running. Did it 3 times a week for half an hour for about 15 years. Did aerobics and weight training mixed in there too...and always walked a few miles a day. Discovered yoga about 10 years ago and love it about as much as anything I can imagine. I am not one of those people that hates exercising. I really love it, only if all I can do is a brisk walk around town or through the woods. But skiing is a sport. A very strange and mysterious one in the beginning. And I have never been good at sports. I was always good at writing and art and handicrafts but I was not naturally athletic. When I ran for years I still never got fast in a 5K. I dropped out of track in high school because I was the slowest one. I couldn't stand being the worst at something because I'd been so good at so many things naturally...but I think that is ultimately why I chose to commit to skiing: my first week was so bad, I was so scared and the last one left in beginner school, but that final day when I successfully took turns down the bunny slope I had a breakthrough that I've never forgotten. I have met people who started skiing at my age who do double blacks and I have yet to do them. I am timid about terrain I've never done, and won't do anything new without an instructor. So my class this week started off with us all being about the same with one really slow person...the slow person dropped down a level, we picked up two really fast people, and all of a sudden my class was 3 super fast people who just bombed down the mountain with me trailing far behind. I had never seen this happen in 8 years of ski week (where my class was not a perfect fit)....and the past few years we did moguls & trees and this time we weren't going to do them. I ended up after a lot of drama being dropped to a lower level class that had almost beginner skiers in it. Now I was the fastest person in class but was not being challenged. But I accepted that this was supposed to be about "fun" and not being a superstar, and besides, I have far surpassed where I thought I would have ended up in my ski career.

Something else was off at Taos: me. I usually blossom & dazzle there, but this time I felt this shroud around I had gauze around my heart and there was a hardness, a bitterness that I did not want to look at. Yes I knew I was sad about not deploying for the third year in a row (and now possibly looking at a fourth) but was the cumulative effect of having my dream deferred turning me into a bitter old crone? Or was it something else? A dark veil seemed to come over me when I saw couples interacting in tender and romantic ways. A man turned his wife on the dance floor and his eyes melted with love for her. My life has had none of that of late. I was seared, and wondering if I had used up my boyfriend allotment for this lifetime...I mean, there have been a lot of them....and a lot of them have been awesome, and the one thing I knew is that I would always have one - until now. I'm not going to go into some new-agey tie in about how being single is awesome and one has to love themself first - cuz I'm out her in new territory for me & it is terrifying. I mean the programming that our culture has about old single women & sick cats and fat stomachs - that is not me...I love solitude & doing my own thing, but I like having companionship & a partner too...I'm not sure I'm very good at it, but for some reason I'm terrified I'm never going to find someone - gosh just writing that seems lame - it's not like I'm hideous or anything. I skied today & felt bored - bored because I am tired of groomers & no longer afraid of off piste...I took off by myself into crud & trees & baby jumps all with success. Maybe I didn't turn into an exper skier this year, but I will next year. Grand Masters here I come. Gah am I ADHD or something?

I love my little dog with his bum eye..he is more fragile now & I am more trapped - not being able to leave him alone as long as I used to because of having to be medicated every few hours...I wonder, if when he dies & I can actually try to get back to the Ice, if it will be the same glorious infusion of life that it was for so long...and this time was not wasted..I did some really bold things that I will be proud of but that also increased my sense of isolation. There is no guidebook for a single middle aged woman who still has the same chutzpah she had at 19. But at the same time there seems to be a shallowness, a non depth to the activities that I assign myself. It is like I am walking through mud, painting a smile on my face and living someone else's life. I cannot fall into that unblinking black hole right now - it's not an option with my current set of unprocessed neurosis.

I actually have women friends my age who are besotted with their grandchildren. Now THIS is an alien landscape I want nothing to do with (otherwise knows as someone please shoot me now!)  Effing Hell get me back to he child free work camp! The gritty, dirty dusty world of labor & cold & wild dancing. Take me back when I want to come back is all I ask.