My homegrown Colorado roots will quiver in shame as I admit to you that I am an average-to-pitiful skier.
I’ve tried to compromise by investing in winter beanies and attending Warren Miller films, but really my favorite winter activities are admiring Christmas lights and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
My whole ski history has been a series of compromises.
In my Colorado growing-up years, my parents faithfully scoured garage sales to provide bibbed snow pants and rainbow-bright snow gloves. My siblings and I were raging representations of early 90’s winter gear, which was further complemented by my brother’s glorious blonde mullet. That mullet was really the hallmark of our childhood.
Once a year my parents would pile us into the mini van and drive three hours in snow and treachery to ski… which really meant snow-plowing down the bunny hill 3-5 times. By noon the family retreated to PB&J sandwiches in the lodge and then loaded our tired selves and chapped lips back home. It was an exhausting but a necessary rite of passage, a once-a-year family compromise.
At 15 I went on a snowboarding trip with my youth group. At this point in adolescence, snowboarding was as essential to social acceptance as drinking Fruitopia, caring for a GigaPet, and owning Doc Martens.
Unfortunately, snowboarding was never meant to be my social gateway.
As I glided off the first lift of the first morning of my first snowboard day… I fell and broke my arm. My snowboard career lasted 37 seconds, but my hot pink, full-arm, L-shaped cast lasted a full 8-weeks.
That social strategy totally backfired.
Then at 16 my dad took me on another ski day. On the second lift of the day I dropped one of my ski poles into the snowy abyss of Copper Mountain backcountry. It was never seen again.
I compromised and skied with one pole for the rest of the day while strangers laughed at me. Children laughed at me. Texans skiing in blue jeans laughed at me.
And I think that was the moment I gave up Colorado skiing.
The problem was, I had a big crush on a mountain ski bum whose long, curly hair peaked out from his winter beanie. He loved skiing and Patagonia and clothes purchased from Goodwill.
So I pretended to love these things too, when really I coveted Abercrombie & Fitch baby tees and wanted a new car with a personalized license plate.
He skied. I pretended to ski. And 10 years passed.
We got married. He sacrificed his long hair to the Marine Corps and agreed to buy more clothes first hand. I stopped buying baby tees.
Finally.. I agreed to go skiing.
Yesterday was a Colorado reckoning, an amicable compromise of sorts. I skied slowly without losing anything or breaking anything or crying a single, frozen tear. Mike said I did “great” and “was a natural,” when really he meant, “Can I go ski back bowls yet?”
He eventually did. I spent the whole day on green runs called “Cinch” and “Easiest Way Down” and Mike spent the day on runs called “Ripper” and “Look Ma.”
It was a Colorado compromise, something nice without changing my life.
Today Mike is off skiing again, cultivating a sunburn that begins below his cheekbones, while I sit here with this view over my shoulder.
And this beauty of a niece on my lap
Coming home for the holidays is so cheery because I get to rediscover all the ways Colorado is a part of me, even if skiing is not one of them. The snow and the mountains and this pretty baby on my lap all make Colorado feel like home in the deepest, truest sense.
Everything about the holiday season is about agreeing on the big stuff and compromising on the rest. It’s the only way we celebrate together.
Even this blog post is a compromise of sorts.
My niece Katelyn has edited this post and added a pointed footnote:
She then closed and reopened my web browser, minimized the screen and launched Microsoft Excel. I’m not sure how this helps, but again…. compromise.
Finally, I’m working on a compromise with Katelyn’s mom, hoping that negotiations will result in a lustrous blonde mullet in the next generation.
Katelyn would agree, I’m sure.