For the majority of my life, I’ve lived in a snow globe. A white-stricken satellite picture was the norm. Snow would fall. School would never be cancelled. Whether in high school or college, we’d be tearing down the mountain roads whenever we had the chance. My early twenties were even more blustery in the most literal of ways, as I picked up and moved to a new timezone and another mountain town.
Just as your body can be trained to rise at a certain hour, mine learned the patterns of the seasons. Sun-streaked hair would grow into fading wisps peeking out from a favorite beanie. The golden days of summer would be replaced by the golden leaves beneath woolen toes. Your body forfeits lemonade for cinnamon and tank tops for flannel. As the layers of nature begin to surrender to the cold nights, you find yourself bulking up in layers of your own. The air gives your body cues with the bite in the breeze and you respond to the call from the mountains.
Yet I sit here, mere days before Thanksgiving, with an uninvited tint on my face from a day spent in the 80 degree sun. My body is confused. How do you un-learn the seasons?
When I hit the restart button and found myself less than an hour from the Gulf of Mexico, I was severely overrun with adrenaline. Sure, why not pick up and move to another new state you’ve never been to? Some people never leave the town they were born in, while I struggle to commit to a place for more than two years. But this time was different. This time, there was a storage unit.
I’ve never needed a storage unit in any of my prior moves. I always needed access to everything at any given time. But now, I have one. It is a glorified closet with an over-sized lock, holding onto the skeletons of my four-seasoned past.
Is this where my ski equipment went to patiently wait or is this where it went to die?
I feel like I was incredibly lucky to grow up in an area that gave time for each season to have its fifteen minutes of fame. Some years the spring would steal the show, while other times the record-setting snow would hoard the water cooler conversation for months on end. It helped me grow up with an understanding of change and acceptance for the illusion of permanence. The summer days always felt like they would go on forever, only to be interrupted by the lights of school buses and falling of the leaves.
But it was 80 degrees today. My laced-up boots felt hot. The steaming red-cupped coffee in my hand felt wrong. IT WAS 80 DEGREES.
If you think you’re confused, then you should talk to my brain. I feel like I am the only one living this winter-less life, but in reality, I am living in a city with almost 2.2 million people. How are they not panicking? Where are the support groups? What do I do?
Sure, this is entirely too dramatic given the state of our country’s true emergencies but it is my reality. It is the reality of literally millions. Dreaming of a white Christmas sounds more like their nightmare…
I hear you snickering. I know you are muttering the word ‘move,’ but it is not as simple as the click-click-clicking of ruby-red heels.
It would seem that the calendar is dictated by the spinning of lifts, but life does exist beyond the pre-marked dates of opening and closing. Winter doesn’t have to be confined to the restrictions of Big Brother resorts. My own opening weekend will be occurring in two weeks. The skis have been retrieved from their chambers and are ready to report for duty.
But here’s the bigger question: does this make me less of a skier? Does this mean I am not a skier at all?
Having worked in a resort town, I used to scoff at the idea of the very tourists who supplied my paycheck. I wore my residency like a badge of honor, taking pride in my PO box and the bartender who had my order memorized. The tourists tried to hide in their sleek, black rental cars, only to be given away by their bar-coded windows. That’s all they were. A number. A visitor who upped our tourism and thus the economy, while being a pain all the same.
Am I now that person?
I’d like to think the label of skier that I gave myself ten years ago, is not one that can be revoked. The title may be edited from local to visitor, and while my zip code may have changed, my appreciation for the mountains hasn’t. If anything, the view you gain from the outside can be a necessary one in fully respecting all that skiing has to offer.
Let me be devil’s advocate on the term weekend warrior, for instance. Although this year, I will be lucky to be a monthly warrior (at best,) there is some merit to the term ‘warrior.’ You go through a lot of mental anguish as such a person. Gone is the luxury of a quick walk or drive to your home mountain. Of course life is a game of give and take, where you may have to choose the conveniences of a paycheck, school or family before skiing. But I’m sure even those who have dedicated themselves to a job within the ski industry can admit to days where those things have to come first. It’s just the nature of the beast.
There will always be the comedic weekend warriors–those who can’t help their gaper ways–decked head-to-toe in turtle fur or denim. I, for one, hope they never cease to exist, purely for my own selfish entertainment. That being said, there is another breed of weekend warriors. Some of them may be your parents. Was being a weekend warrior their calling in life? Not at all…but they did it so they could spend the other five days of the week earning the paycheck that would go towards your first pair of sticks. (May you be eternally grateful.)
Being a weekend warrior means fighting an unwanted battle in hopes of seeking the solace of skiing. It is the ultimate prize for sucking it up and working the nine to five to make ends meet. In some capacity, the warrior has more of an appreciation for skiing. So many people who get ski regularly, become jaded. They pick and choose their days on-snow, holding out for the crème de la crème that is a bluebird Tuesday. The warriors, on the other hand, are strapping in, come rain or shine. I remember many days skiing with my torso engulfed in black trash bags as they snapped at our backs while we raced down the hill. Despite the rain, we were skiing. As long as we were clicked in, we were thankful. You play the hand you’re dealt.
I now can see with my perfect 20/20 hindsight, that you can’t just snap out of the seasons and expect your body to understand. Anyone with any type of addiction can attest that making a cold turkey change is drastic. Being a skier for a decade and now living in a climate defined as “humid subtropical” is also drastic. But I like to think I’m exactly that–a skier in a new climate.
Sometimes stepping away from something that consumes your daily life is exactly what you need. In my southern exposure, I’ve found myself wanting to ski, rather than feeling like I had to. Come December, I am sure my skin will shiver as I step off my plane, but the icy sensation will be a welcome one.
You can move a girl’s heart away from the skiing, but you can’t move skiing out of the heart of a girl.