Another night I just can’t sleep. Another night I just can’t stop smiling. So I’m down here hanging with the cats and dogs by myself in the ski and snowboard shop (because yes we have that setup here in the new house and it’s amazing btw) finishing tuning my board because it’s FINALLY FUCKING WINTER!
We’re hitting the mountain tomorrow – the local one with like uh, one run open so don’t get too excited but hey it’s local and cheap and fun so yeah. And guess what? We have fun no matter where we are because that’s what we do. There’s a point in life where nothing matters but time and doing things we love with people we love. I’m there – at that time when what matters is us. This. All of it. Time well spent, together.
The “Maiden Alpine Adventure of 2022” commences tomorrow morning and I couldn’t be more excited. Like a kid at Christmas I’m staying up late getting everything ready. Don’t even care that it’s a baby hill on a half-assed mountain. It’s home. And you know what matters? We’re here. Together. My kids are both going (they talked me into it, old bones and pulled muscles and I don’t care because being with them is what really matters). Their friends are coming. Two dead beginners but that’s awesome because we can all do this together. And it will make me go slow – something I am NOTORIOUSLY bad at haha!
Ask me how I ended up on a board again after 23 years…
No really. Ask me. Or not. Because I am going to tell you anyway.
My father died just a little over a year ago. I was an avid skier as a kid. The whole nine – from ski club to ski team, starting with NASTAR in the 7th grade at Gore by myself, to high school ski team, to an obsession that turned into a dream and something I was actually really truly good at.
I skied slalom and giant slalom, often opting to practice more with the boys because their coach was harder and more challenging and I wanted to be better. I skied varsity in the top 6 as a freshman, wrecked my knee and nearly missed the next season with surgery, followed by a far-too-fast return to the slopes that held my league and state rank to have me in the top seed most races by junior year until I blew out my knee again. Racing too soon, too fast just lead to injuries that would set the stage for the rest of my life.
Several (now 4) knee surgeries in, with things torn down, pared out, and pieced and screwed back together, I was told to never ski again. So naturally after shattering my left tibia in an massive inoperable spiderweb fracture of fantastic proportions, complete with stitches, I returned to the mountain on the board my cousin got me. A hair too big Burton Air Fly 5.0 that was too big and too fast for someone of my size.
It was perfect.
I replaced racing with shredding and moguls and slalom turns with park and carves. My knees hated me but I could stay upright, and I loved every single moment. I live for winter and cold sharp air that hits you in the face so hard it takes your breath away. This. I live for this.
Back to my father. Anyway he died and it was awful. We were estranged but take anything awful over what you may have to do and make it so much worse and that was my past year. Hell. It was a hell worse than any hell I ever imagined. But hey, my son bought a snowboard because he wanted to get back on the mountain. He worked really really hard and saved up a lot of money so I went with him to help him choose. He got an amazing LibTech and Union bindings, and talked me and his sister into joining him (she had only really skied up until this point).
She made honor roll so I bought her a board as a reward. We got a great deal and she saved up for boots, and suddenly I was the only one in the family without one. So I did the only logical thing. After 23 years off the slopes, I jumped back in whole heartedly – the only way I know how to live – and ordered my dream board. The one I always wanted and could never afford, or never needed, or just couldn’t justify. But fuck it. I was 44 surrounded by death and change and what the fuck did it matter? Go big or go home.
I chose both of those things. I ordered my dream Never Summer Lady West, complete with a Ravenclaw-like eagle and a cougar snow stomp pad because well, I was old, and cougars are cool (yes I realize how lame this sounds and yes to my kids you can stop rolling your eyes at me now haha). Flow bindings. Ride boots. Fit my newly 80-pounds less body into high school ski pants that were still too big and bought new stuff. And the new me got back onto a god damned board on the top of our little mountain and I felt a little closer to heaven that day, again, for the first time in a long time and I rode.
I lived. I really lived. And I continue to live.
It’s after midnight and I am home and can’t sleep, waxing and tuning my board to every inch of perfection because I love this shit. I live for this. I can’t stop smiling. And I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow. I don’t care if there’s only one run open and we’re taking a bunch of friends that feel like family for their very first alpine adventure. What I really love about all of this is that it’s the first of so much more. A tradition we started last year, and one we will continue for so many years to come. It’s nights like this that feel like Christmas, a kid alive again with wonder in their eyes at all the magic of the best any New York winter ever had to offer. And it’s because you’re here – or maybe you’re not here yet because you can’t be, but you will be someday. And there rest of the gang’s all here. All of us.
This is home. My home on my snow-covered mountain where I can’t stop smiling, so happy for finding someone my soul connects with in a way I though I would never feel again, or ever like this. Surrounded by so much life and so much love that anyone who isn’t sitting here smiling like a fool is exactly that – a fool.
I love you guys. All of you. When Jimmy died, I promised I’d never again keep those feelings in, or let another day go by that I said “goodbye” instead of “I love you.” I’d never say hey – let’s do that tomorrow, because in the marrow of my bones and the deepest parts of my soul that time is right the fuck now.
I love all of you, my life is full, and my cup runneth over. Thank you. And thank you, too. You are my favorite person, I love you.