Posted by: Sue D. Gelber | December 29, 2011

Snow-covered Stress (or is it stress-covered snow?)

Driving up the winding mountain road, my stomach started turning in knots. Every switchback twisted them tighter and tighter. I kept reminding myself that I liked snowboarding. In fact, it was my idea to go. Really, I like it…when I’m done. As in, when I’ve sat down at the bar at the bottom of the mountain, with a big plate of onion rings and a tall beer, and I say “That was really fun!” That’s the moment that I like it. As we drove up, getting higher and higher, the depth of the snow around us increasing, that moment felt far, far away.

I’ve only been snowboarding about three times in my life. I’ll admit, each time gets slightly less unpleasant. But only slightly. I’m dozens of trips away from truly “having fun.” At this stage, I’m much closer to “having to go to the hospital” or “having a nervous breakdown” than I am to “having fun.” So why do I do it?

Well, I blame my parents. I know, I know, it’s so trite to blame one’s parents, isn’t it? But I didn’t learn to ski as a child, and that (apparently) is when one needs to learn how to ski so that one doesn’t scream with fear when approaching the bunny hill. No, whatever window of opportunity there is to learn to ski, I missed it. I tried skiing for the first time as a grown-up, and it was an unmitigated disaster. What’s more, skiing involves things like wearing uncomfortable boots, being exposed to cold weather, suffering through hat-head, and spending copious amounts of money. I dislike all of those. I figured I was better off without the sport.

But then my kids started skiing. And my husband is an excellent skier. I realized I was missing out on something. Here was a 1) family-friendly activity that 2) got all of us into the great outdoors and 3) included some healthy exercise. On paper, it should be right up my alley. Except for the fact that I didn’t ski and was, apparently, too old to learn.

But then I discovered snowboarding. Snowboarding is a relatively new sport, and therefore lots of “older” skiers have tried taking it up. That means it’s ok to be bad. I sat in the lodge watching middle aged guy after middle aged guy fall on his butt. Hmmm, I thought, maybe I could try that instead. After all, I couldn’t be any worse than those middle-aged guys making fools of themselves, could I?

OK, maybe I could be worse, but it seemed like my best shot at being able to participate in my family’s winter vacations.

The problem is, when I tried it, I hated it. Well, I didn’t hate it for the .002 seconds I was standing up and moving, but I hated it when I fell. On my face. On my butt. On my knees. On my back. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

But, at the end of the day, down there at the restaurant, I declared “That was really fun!” And somehow, I meant it. Maybe it’s just one of those things that isn’t fun at the time, but makes you happy afterwards. Like running a marathon. Or cleaning the bathroom. And so, once again, I find myself at the top of the mountain, dreaming of those onion rings and beer that await me at the finish. If only I can manage to get there instead of the local hospital.


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