The Nitty Gritty of Skiing in and out of Purgatory
a pathetic Kaye attempt at humorous writing
I hate skiing.
I must be the only person I know who feels this way. We moved to Durango, Colorado for ten years and during the first December, friends took us on a moonlit dogsled ride.
I froze my arse off. I hated it. The other five people laughed and howled at the moon, ate dark chocolate and drank hot coffee from warm flasks while I curled into a scoliotic fetal posture, shivered and muttered “f— you and you-bastard” epithets.
I hated it.
I loved the dogs.
The next month we drove up to the nearby ski slopes at Purgatory also known as Durango Mountain Resort. The sky shone a hopeful and sparkling blue—there is nothing like the blue of a Colorado sky at 8000 feet. It’s inspirational enough to offer the powerful illusion of edgy-attitude-conquers-all. Inside the lodge we drank hot cocoa and fitted skis.
(An aside: I’m from Australia. I had never seen snow in my life until I moved to the USA. Actually, until I moved to Colorado twenty years later, I had never seen snow.)
We trudged and hobbled to the ski lift where two bundled up young men helped attach our hands to the moving lift that would “ski” us up the mountain. I felt an overwhelming sense of fear, palms sweating inside ski gloves, mouth dry. The lift inched forward and I fell down.
“Stop the lift,” someone shouted.
“You’re the first person who has ever fallen on the way UP the mountain,” one of the young men shouted. Every professional and unprofessional skier turned their fur-lined, sunglassed heads and gawked. Not only did I fall down, but I fell down in a full frontal split and both skis, back and front, sunk into the snow. Stuck, stuck, and totally stuck in Purgatory, directly under the uphill lift, in the middle of the line of people going up the mountain, and the cause of ensuing chaos from pissed off people.
Lucky I can do a full split. I’ve been told I have mild “Ehlers-Danlos syndrome” but that’s just a crazy name for being really, really flexible. I could always do the splits. So, I wasn’t in pain except emotionally. Others gathered around with “oohs” and “ahhs” and assumed because of the ghastly appearance of two split legs, one north and one south, that I must have “fractured a hip” or perhaps the “pubic bone.” (ouch)
“Don’t move her,” one shouted.
“Call 911. She’s fractured a hip.”
“How long is THIS going to take???”
“I only have an hour to ski before lunch…”
“Why are you even on these slopes? You need to take lessons.”
“Get her out of here…get this line moving.”
A discussion ensued about whether or not to call the paramedics.
“Just get me up out of this and I’ll walk away,” I said. “I hate skiing.”
Two bundled up young men bent down over my front foot and two bent over my back foot.
“One, two, three,” the lead guy commanded.
They heaved my then overweight body up and onto the skis where I stood up, trembling.
I fell down again.
“Get me out of here,” I said in tears. Two men, one on either side and under either arm, carried me off the slopes.
The only other time I skied was when someone convinced me that cross-country skiing was easy, easy, easy. No hills. Wow. I might like that.
At seven o’clock one winter morning, under the light of a silvery moon, I waxed and waned on cross-country skis. I stayed upright on flat slopes, with legs balanced and splayed into triangles and circles, until I came to a “bunny” slope—make that a giant jackrabbit slope. I fell down. My friend and I laughed so hard that we lost our strength. I could not get back up. We lay in the snow and did snow angels until we calmed down but now the snow fell, one large flake after the next until the surrounding slopes faded into white. “Time to go home,” I said. Once upright, we “skied” over another bunny slope and another bunny slope until we came to a giant hill.
“I can’t go down that,” I said. “I might kill someone and that might be me.”
My friend pointed behind us. “There’s no other way. They just closed the trail we came on. Can’t you see those orange flags?” It was indeed snowing, snowing, snowing, blurring the massive pines, but I couldn’t see any flags.
“OK. “ I said mustering up confidence. “Let’s go. But slowly.”
My friend disappeared down the hill. I mean, she disappeared. Gone, gone, gone like a pebble skimming over water. I climbed down sideways, one ski wedged into the snow and then the other one after that, and so on… until I began to slide
heading for the parking lot on the side of the hill where concrete condominiums rushed towards me.
I bent my knees and shifted my body,
this way, that way,
left and right,
like an athlete,
a professional skiier,
Yes that’s what I was, a professional skiier in the winter Olympics,
skiing madly down the hill,
and I was going to win.
I swished my skis
side to side,
side to side,
at a sizzling pace.
The cold air zipped past my frozen ears,
the crunching snow snapped under skis,
I worked the skis around other skiers,
faster, faster, faster,
now a dancer,
dark sunglasses and a fur-lined head
I had made it into the ranks.
The joy, the joy of the ranks.
I reached the bottom of the mountain
and couldn’t stop,
I fell backwards,
into soft snow and laughed.
What a ride. What a thrill. What a thrill. What a thrill.
I hated it. I loved it. I hated it.
What a thrill. What a thrill. What a thrill.
I never skied again. Nor will I ever ski again. We moved back to Florida. No snow. No blizzards. NO HILLS!