Wednesday, March 24, 2010

fire and ice

Dear Snowbird,

When I came to your mountain as a hotel clerk back in the last century, I expected a whirlwind adventure in the interim of getting residency status for the true blue
Aggies. I was fresh from Idaho, with two years under my belt at the religious still-sweet-as-elementary Ricks College.

What I did not expect, because your "little" canyon provided granite for the Salt Lake Mormon Temple back two centuries, well I didn't expect to be the minority mormon upon your hills. I never knew the "F" word could be an expletive, verb, and adjective at the same time, and also that it could be an exclamation of joy.

I also didn't know the beloved blissful joy of snowboarding in dry powder up to my knees, the prize of first tracks, or how an elevation climb above city smog could clear my lungs as well as head. I never knew that working weekend graveyard shifts would translate to me finishing up the nightly audit, only to have hours to sit alone looking upon the mountain clear of riders and trees, with moonbeam brandishing the snow with silver glow. I didn't expect to lay spiritual claim upon Dick Bass' massive physical investment, but claim it I did. Claim it I have. Snowbird belongs to my heart.

Though my process of ownership was independent, I found a new camaraderie that was surprising. Thirty-something resort bums with seasonal lives on the mountain in winter, on the river in summer, and who were in better shape than most people my age. Their livelihood kept them in the sun, active, happy, and alert. Gordon, my lodge bellman and a thirty-something goofball, taught me how to drop down powder-filled chutes while he glided effortlessly on telemark skis. "Link 'em like sausage! Link 'em like sausage!" he would yell as I jumped up to drop my board the opposite direction, dropping several feet with each effort.

Pat, the forty-something bellman and Gordon's river guide, only gave away his age because of his bald pate. He could slide down a mountain on telemarks faster than most punks on boards or skis.

Being new and in transition, I began to understand why they did it. It was free, beautiful, and adventurous living. It was my first drug.

Yet, somewhere in the back of my head, during my note-taking and life-planning I wondered how to hold on to adventure, health, and vitamin D into my thirties as well as they did. I looked upon Gordon and Pat as my peers, but one day I turned to them and wondered: "Do you have kids?"

Proudly, I was shown a picture of a pre-adolescent son on the other side of the country. The boy lived with his mom, he was good at A, B, C, and he would see him for a couple weeks that summer.

I smiled to see a mini-version of my friend, but sadly recognized the fallout from this prolonged lifestyle. While I'm sure that a ski bum "family" exists somewhere, I'm not doubting it would be a pretty rare thing, what with the need to raise babies, drop roots, have neighbors, communities, and school-mates.

So then I left, went to school, served a mission, boarded during my breaks, and eventually got married and became Mrs. Olsen. And this is what I said to myself in my head:

It's time to really grow up now. You need to cut back on road trips, snowboarding, and eating out. You need to pay bills, act like a grown up, and be a good wife and mom!

So I did.

And now? Decade plus later? I realize that I was partly wrong!

I haven't snowboarded in ten years! My snowpants don't fit me, and I'm too cheap to pay 100 smacks for new ones when I dread to be the weight that I am. I don't even WANT to go on the slopes, for fear my former self would mock me to night...remembering my mountain and my dreams for growing thirty.

As my reaction to being a good mom, I totally pushed away my physical and spiritual NEEDS for mountain, for powder, and for lifetime passports to all National Parks.

I'm just starting to realize this. It's taken me a decade to figure out I can mostly be a good mom, and partly be a ski bum....if I didn't have those darned beautiful fat-producing pregnancies to throw me for a loop.

Balance is the key people!

So I sit, and wonder how to gain it back. Wonder if it's worth it. I mourn for that floating powder shredBetty lost somewhere inside my soccer mom-ness with square arse. I see women my age, hitting the slopes while their kids are in school, and think that maybe...with 3 salads a day for 3 years (sigh) I could be a little bit of a ski bum again and return home invigorated and ready to lift and serve my littles to greater mountainous heights.

My Own Worst Enemy


Tami said...

Ohhhh...I haven't water skiied or snowboarded since I've been married either. Jeff gets a lot of flack for it from other people. I do need balance but also not be pregnant during the summers and access to a boat. And also, I don't want to fork out the cash either for a new board. I sold mine shortly after I got married and was pregnant. I knew I wouldn't be using it for awhile. Maybe when the kids get a little older.

LGH said...

Amber, you nailed it: balance is the key...for most of us, it's a lesson learned later or not at all. I really appreciated this post. But, I have to add, I think you are pretty amazing at achieving balance, maybe just not with the mountain and snow.

trieste said...

Amber, I am going through something similar. I am free from nursing and pregnancy for a while. I am trying to see how active I will keeping my family number one. So I started getting up at 5:30 AM What the what!?! It has been great. I am training for my first triathlon....Ps you are a great writer, keep it up!

earwaxtasteslikecrayons said...

Nice, Mrs. O. Balancing the costs and the benefits . . . I like this post a lot.

Wade and Marilyn said...

Beautiful--I can still see the mountain. Keep up the salad-eating. You are beautiful.

Angenette said...

You know, I am not a mnt person. I love my hikes in the summer, want to eventually get into mountain biking, but that's it. I don't camp. I don't ski. I don't board. Snow makes me feel icky.
But once in a while...
Once in a while I read something like this and it makes me want to rent a board and relive skateboarding glory days.

Kelly Bryson said...

I wanted to be a rock climber and got just enough taste of it to know that I love it. But...

My kids are getting big enough that we can think about going on hiking trips and they love camping. Sometimes we can keep our dreams, but they have to bent a little.

And I water skiied again a few years ago ( I used to be pretty okay at that, but it wasn't much fun anymore! I am missing those inner thigh muscles. Sigh. I feel you.

Mrs. Olsen said...

Forking out money for a new board...PLUS forking over a weekly grocery budget for one day on the mountain. Almost as painful as my thigh burn if/when I ever get back out.

Loni, you are just an all around sweetheart and I love you. And your daughter that I never see.

Trieste...dang girl! 5:30am, that is awesome. Triathlons, marathons, intimidate the crap out of me. Way to go!

Angenette, o how I desperately wanted to be a skateboarding chic when my older brother was running around with the neighbor boys. It never happened but I'm glad you were able to pull it off.

Kelly, you are right...the dreams just have to bend a little. Plus I'm sure to be better than a little kid that's never been before right? (and that's my point, get back to it with your kids).

Lee Family said...

Oh Amma, when I first started reading this post, I was secretly hoping for a funny anecdote about the Yak Bak. But, it was a great post nonetheless. You have to work at maintaining hobbies. It's a lot easier for men to maintain their hobbies for some reason (the opportunities for boys to play pick-up basketball is just not fair.)
but, it takes work. I think you should share your love of the mountains and snowboarding with your kids. I know you have taken them on a lot of hikes but you should take them (or just rainbow girl) to the place you love - take her to snowbird. You can ease yourself back into it and not have to shame yourself because you'll have to go slow enough to teach the young padawan.
that's my two cents.

Monica said...

Just getting caught up on your blog...I remember feeling this way about tennis when I finally got back to playing after 8+ years of absence from the court. I said to myself, "Why did I ever give this up?" It's good for your soul to have a hobby you love. It makes you a better mother to have a little time away from the kids, too. Go snowboarding!! You rock!