The teacher dude shouted: “Control your edge!”
The gear was restricting.
I was strapped to a stupid slippery board.
Control my edge?? What the hell did that mean?
I could not control anything. I flew down the hill taking out toddlers.
At the time, I was an Assistant Media Planner living in San Francisco, and Newsweek magazine was hosting me on an all expenses paid trip to Lake Tahoe, CA.
At the time, I thought snowboarding was so cool. What did I know? I grew up on the shores of New Jersey and Florida. I had no experience with snow sports.
I certainly didn’t know that there was so much falling. And, from 5’10” up, I fell hard.
Over and over and over.
In the hot tub that night, I gave everyone a shameful show of my bruises. The most painful were the bruises to my ego.
Then, nestling back in the warm bubbles, I declared that I was done with snowboarding.
My friends squeaked! No! Geeeeooooorrr—giiii! You have to go three days! You just have to get over the learning curve! Please! Power through it!
“No,” I said, while sipping champagne, “I’m not going to do it.”
That was the day I quit snowboarding forever.
Years later, I moved to Missoula, Montana. There was a ski resort. My friends said I should try to ski. But, I was too scared and proud. I said no.
So next, the laughing universe moved me to Salt Lake City, Utah, even closer to ski resorts. Home of champagne powder! Home of the winter Olympics! Within 30 minutes of my house, I could arrive door to door at 6 world-class ski resorts. People came from all over the world to SLC to ski. My new friends were junior Olympians and ski racers. One of my besties was the Pac-12 head Nordic ski coach. Ha, ha, ha…
I was officially screwed.
My heart was full of longing to join. I suffered through several terrifying lessons. I hated trying to control edges. I was a mess. I wallowed in self-pity.
And yet, in an act of lunacy and denial, when my friends got season passes to a ski resort, I got one too.
Then, here is what I did:
I told everyone to leave me alone. Don’t come with me. Don’t watch me. Don’t ski near me. Don’t watch me fall. Don’t notice all the times I shed a few tears under my goggles.
Then, one day, my friend Shireen had enough. She said, “I’m coming with you.”
I said, “No.”
She said, “Yes.”
I said, “No, I am going on green runs! I am slow. You will not have any fun with me. I’m a junkshow right now.”
She said, “I don’t care.”
My heart beat out of control. I wanted to vomit. I said, “NO! You go with everyone else! It will be more fun! I am fine by myself.”
She said, “I want to be with you!”
I whined, “Why? I suck! Please, leave me alone!”
She shook her hands high in the air and said, “I don’t care how hard you ski!!! I just want to BE WITH YOU!”
Then, we both laughed so freaking hard.
For the rest of the day, she skied with me. She waited. And waited. And waited. She took 3 turns down a run while I took 12. Yet there, at the bottom of the run, she’d be smiling and making new friends.
She’d see me coming and say, “Awesome! You did it! Want to get a beer?”
Then, we’d get on the lift and laugh and laugh and laugh.
She didn’t care how hard I skied. She just wanted to be with me. She didn’t care how many bruises I had, inside or out. It brought me to even more tears under my goggles.
The title of this week’s blog post is misleading, because I’m sure there are people who care how hard you ski or how fast you run or how many degrees you have.
But the thing is, the people who really love you don’t care about any of that.
Sometimes, when we are stuck in our own fear, it’s hard to remember that, even when we’re falling five million times, acting crazy, crying, and wanting to puke, our best friends love us no matter what.
Beautiful reader: I know you’re scared sometimes. It’s ok. Just get on the slopes of your life. Keep trying. Take a friend like Shireen who loves you. That way, you will always enjoy the ride.