Growing up in the North East region of this country it’s practically mandatory that at one time in your life you learn to ski and participate in ski trips up north. I was part of this statistic, and have more or less been scarred in doing so.
Skiing is one of New England’s joys--a rite of passage for all in the region. I was not immune to this hazing; I learned how to make a pizza pie down the bunny slope just like every other white person in the region. (I mean, it’s true.) On three separate occasions I have loathed this downward trending sport due to injury and worry.
When I was 9, my family went up to Mt. Cranmore with friends of ours for a weekend; Yay! Group activities! The first full day of skiing, I was going down a slope with my father and his friend, who happened to be over 6 feet tall and about 220-250 lbs. Half way down the slope, I didn’t know where my father was, so I did a nice neat little stop to look back at the trail to know his whereabouts. As I was curtly slicing the snow to a halt, my father’s friend Ed came barreling into me and literally skied over me. I didn’t know what the fuck had happened, all I kept on asking myself once I was embedded into the snow like an M&M in a cookie is if I could feel my heart beating; my rationale was simple: if I could feel my heart beating than I must still be alive. I stayed on the ground skies already strewn down the slope, spread eagle with my head facing down hill, wide eyed looking at the sky. Ed came running back up to me asking if I was alright--could I move? Margaret--can you hear me? Ye-yes. I can hear you. I’m fine...I’m fine! And up I popped on to the hill. I didn’t want to embarrass my father and cause a scene (too fucking late there, Margaret). My father asked me simple questions: can yah move yah neck? yes. can yah move yah legs and ahms? yes. Yo-wah fine. Let’s get goin’! And on we went with our day. Skiing got its first strike against me that day.
The next day, my father and I were gliding down a sweet little trail hugging the outside of the mountain; on the right hand side were rocks and trees, on the left a drop off descending I’d guess about 10-15 feet. So there we were skiing along, and my father, being the kind man he is, was always checking on me, looking back to see that I was alright. (I had, after all been skied over the day before). One such time, I was looking back at me and skied off the trail. As in, one instant I saw him, the next, *poof* he was gone. Just like that, I witness my father plummet to his death. DAAAAD! DAAAAAD! I yell. Mah-grett? Can yah he-yah me? YES DAD! I CAN HEAR YOU! A Boston accent had never sounded so wonderful. Mah-grett, I’m ah-rite...and just like that, a man that was behind us saw the whole thing and extended his pole and he scaled the monstrous cliff back to safety. I was so shaken up I began to cry--holy shit my father almost just was killed because he was trying to make sure I was ok. If that’s not guilt, I don’t know what is. Skiing now had two strikes against in my book.
A few years later (I must have been 14 or 15 at this point) my father and I decided to spend a Saturday up at Gunstock in New Hampshire. Being a seasoned veteran of skiing my this point, I was confident, loved going through little forest trails and going over small jumps. As far as I was concerned, I was practically ready for the Winter Olympics. Everything was going swimmingly--my dad and I were laughing, enjoying the day, skiing, you know, the idyllic winter scene. On a perfect trail, I decided to veer off on to a small forest glade trail for a few moments; there was always a way to get back on to the original trail. So I ducked into the trees, gliding along, listening to nature--all that bullshit when I decided it was time to hop back on the trail. as I was about to take a left back on the trail, when right in front of me was a tree that wasn’t going to let me go. This was the kind of moment that you see in cartoons, when the nemesis realizes, eyes bugged out of their skull, that the plans they had will not really be working out, since pretty soon, they’re gonna be dead. (Think Wyle E. Coyte). A moment later, I was hanging upside down in that tree wondering what the fuck had just happened. It’s not a coincidence that I have had that thought more than once whilst skiing. Fortunately, there was someone behind me that witnessed me impaling myself into the low branches of the tree, because I remember having someone shout at me: CAN YOU OPEN YOUR EYES! CAN YOU HEAR ME! HOW MANY FINGERS AM I HOLDING UP!! CAN YOU MOVE YOUR NECK! The kind stranger helped disentangle me, asked me a couple of more questions, when I heard my dad farther down the trail yell MAH-GRETT! WHAT’S TAKIN’ YAH SO LONG! Oh, no big deal, dad, almost just died while you’re crying out impatiently for me to get down the fucking hill. Totally fine, my neck was almost snapped, but don’t worry, we’ll go get lunch. Jesus.
Skiing: that was strike three, you asshole.