Maybe from my description you have already guessed that I am talking about skiing, or maybe you just think this is some sort of crazy torture thing that I’m in to. Both are kind of true I guess, at least when you break down the component parts. Let’s try that out and see what we get:
Starting with cost this is not a sport for the faint of wallet. In fact it might be a sport for the completely crazy nutso people who don’t know the first thing about fiscal prudence. You can rent everything sure, but even if you rent your boots, poles, and skis at a low cost of $80 or so a day, you also have to rent the jacket, pants, gloves, long-underwear (not sure if those are a rental option), socks (also not sure), goggles, a helmet and whatever else I’m forgetting. Then you get to buy a lift ticket which will run you anywhere from $50 if you get a super discount package at a small resort to $140 a day for the bigger places. All this so you can spend your day in sub-freezing temperatures, whizzing down a mountain that not infrequently results in great bodily injury or death.
As an adult I have purchased my gear so I get some amortized benefit, but things wear out and you have to buy new and so really it’s a lot like home ownership: a never ending cost suck with some amorphous benefit, in this case exercise I think. My husband is something of fanatic about skiing so his cost for the sport is much greater than mine. He has multiple pairs of skis, and goggles for every imaginable light condition. If I look at the price tag it makes me gag, actually gag in the real sense of feeling like I am going to vomit. The trick is to close your eyes, take a deep breath and remember that because he is bald he doesn’t spend any money on the stylist – I like to pretend that makes us even.
So after you have got yourself all geared up and looking fine off you go into the great groomed outdoors where on a beautiful day it is in the mid-thirties, fahrenheit. I have circulation problems and low blood pressure so that means that my hands and feet are numb after about 90 minutes, at two hours I am in pain but can bear it, by two and a half I am thinking very seriously about how soon I get to go inside because it feels like sharp pokers are being rammed up my arms and legs. I have a variety of tricks I use to stave off the pain and it has definitely extended my time outside but I feel no shame in acknowledging the fact that I will not be joining any arctic expeditions in the near future, or ever.
And finally there is this that I have been observing for the last few years of skiing. For anywhere from a few weeks to a few months post ski day I am numb from mid-calf to toes along the top of my foot. Bruised nerve somewhere, not much to do about that since I already have the custom boots that keep my feet warm(er). Did I mention that the boots are so tightly molded to my feet (by design) that a human of normal strength can not put them on alone, you have to have a buddy to help. I paid extra for this.
After all of the cost and the pain and the cold and the crazy people who come hurtling out of nowhere and hit you (broken collar bone three years ago – will never fully recover) I still willingly go out and do it, I still want to, I look forward to it and plan opportunities to spend more money so I can stay places so it is easier to get out on the mountain faster. But I’m not crazy like my husband is about skiing, I only really love it when I remember that I love it, that is when I am out there, thighs burning coming down a long steep run, heart beating hard with icy cold air in my nose, feeling the crystals of icy snow on my cheeks – he loves it all the time, year round, thinking, planning, dreaming it.
A week ago I was sitting on a ski lift as the snow lightly fell. My son, who is now quite a bit taller than me at my side. We held up our black gloves as we sat there comparing the tiny perfect snowflakes landing on us, nearly shouting at each other as we discovered another one even more perfect than the one before. You can’t have that unless you are out in the snow, in the cold, being fully in that moment. That’s just how you have to live life it seems, you know, by being there.