This line from the movie Bring It On rings through my head often as I’ve taken to chanting it to myself while I ski. My husband thinks that what holds me back in skiing is my lack of aggression. When Zoli tells me to find my aggression and fuel it toward going down a steep incline, I don’t know what he means. So, the best I can conjure up is dialogue from a cheerleading movie. The most aggressive I think I’ve ever gotten is when a guy tried to grab my friend’s arm at a club. I hit him away and told him to “scram” – channeling an episode of The Little Rascals. In fact, I really think the only time I ever get aggressive is when someone offends or attacks someone I love.
Aggression may hold me back, but I would say the thing that keeps me going is my propensity to forget terrible situations. It’s often said that women forget how painful childbirth is. Now, I’ve never been in labor, but I think I have a version of that trait. I forget pain of specific situations constantly and my most recent experience with this is skiing.
About five years ago, I learned to ski again. In this case, the third time was a charm. The first time I ever had skis attached to my feet was summer camp in Scotland. It was dry slope skiing and I managed to knock down the entire group, domino effect-style. The second time I “learned” I was an adult and took a group lesson with several friends and acquaintances. During the session, my friend Joseph and I managed to repeatedly get our skis entangled. In fact, the instructor just rotated between yelling my name and Joseph’s name. That same time I managed to wedge myself between a married couple on a ski lift. If you asked me to, I could not reenact that maneuver. It’s just that one minute I was standing and the next, I was sitting between two unsuspecting people who were so annoyed they refused to acknowledge me. Getting off the lift, I managed to take out both of them. I believe I was crying behind my goggles hoping I would not meet my life’s end. You would think that nothing could get me to try skiing again. It took the love of a man.
Well, I may have tried a winter sport because I loved Zoli and thought, “Well, I’ll give it one more shot.” I picked skiing because Sarah already skied, which meant I had a buddy. I stuck with it because I actually figured out (once I got past my initial clumsiness and fear of the chair lift) that it’s fabulous.
Pause. I think it’s important here to give my two cents on the widely debated (at least in my household) topic of skiing vs. snowboarding. I chose skiing because it is the classic, quintessential winter sport. If you know me at all, the idea of me donning a pair of Vans and low-slung snowboard pants and hanging in the “park” is just absurd. In fact, I really wish I was wearing one of these outfits:
“Apres-Ski Bunnies” by Virginia Thoren 1963
But I digress. Four years ago, I got skis and boots. Three years ago, Zoli bought me new skis and boots. That same year, we headed to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for my first big mountain ski adventure. Well, I was terrible. Apparently, when you learn to ski on a sheet of ice, you stink at powder. Or, at least, I do. The realization that I wasn’t all that great reminded me of a simple fact. I’ve always been terrible at sports. In middle school, I tried out for basketball – knowing nothing about the sport, how it was played or even what travelling was. In fact, I vividly remember I was wearing khaki pants and a pink top. (It didn’t occur to me to change into gym clothes?!) At one point, I got a hold of the ball and held onto it for dear life while two other girls tried to grapple it from me. It ended with the three of us lying on the floor, each with a hand on the ball. While I can’t speak for the others, I was immediately cut from the team.
I tried my hand at tennis and loved it, but a fainting spell and the embarrassment that followed made me stop taking lessons.
In high school, I accepted my fate. Sports were not for me (though I always thought I would be awesome at volleyball – as long as I didn’t have to wear the teeny-tiny shorts).
So, two years after my trip to Wyoming, I’m begging my husband to take me back. He looks at me warily and reminds me what it was like, but I’m determined to conquer those mountains. (My desire to go back might also have something to with Pearl Street Bagels and Crissy’s coffee). I can’t guarantee that I’ll be aggressive, but I will try my very best to channel Kirsten Dunst.