A few days ago, I was frantically packing, getting the truck worked on, trying to tie up all the loose ends possible before I went to Snowbird for our 2009 National Academy. This is my third academy (and my third year teaching and skiing).
The week leading up to the trip was a bit on the hectic side, and I always stress that I'll forget something, and conversely that I've brought too much.
But suddenly, I'm in the truck, the back is full of skis and gear, my massage table and all that goes with it, clothes for ski, work, play and relaxing, food for the road and for the room, good music is a must...
And I get in my truck (through the passenger side door, because the driver side still doesn't open), with about $89 in my pocket, and I hope that's enough to get to Snowbird and feed myself for a couple of days till I can book some massage.
There is a moment of sadness as I pull out of the driveway, I will miss the boys, and I feel a bit guilty leaving again. They were happy, they told me to have fun, gave me kisses, and Ethan has called me four times already to tell me he loves me and he hopes I'm having fun. But I still wish they were old enough to come along.
I drive out of our neighborhood and into the canyon heading up to Big Sky. Suddenly, I'm in the canyon, and the river is winding along the side of the road, the trees are loaded with snow, the clouds are low, the mist is heavy, I turn on some Bob Dylan and crack open a Red Bull and I'm on my way.
There is this lovely feeling of peace that comes over me, I love the sensation of going by myself on some adventure. I never used to do this, I always went on trips with someone else, trips someone else had planned, I let my boyfriend or my husband plan, get the directions, change the oil...
I always knew where we were going or knew someone who was there. I never had traveled just solo, and certainly not to some unknown destination.
Now, I love it. I love the freedom that I feel the sense of ownership of myself. Yes, I can drive across the country by myself to some ski area without any reservations, with very little money, and a big box of granola. I can sleep in my truck on my own, I can take care of myself. I can change a tire, I can change my oil, I can read a map (okay, I'm still working on that one.)
I remember realizing that something had fundamentally changed for me in this respect when I was on my way to my Level 2 prep at Lost Trail in Montana. I had never been there before, I didn't know anyone out there, I was the only person from Bridger going, and I was going to sleep in my truck in the dead of winter because I couldn't afford a hotel room, but I have a nice sleeping bag. I wasn't about to miss the opportunity to do the prep clinic, I need all the help I can get understanding skiing!
I drove by myself out into what looked like Arctic wilderness, and I remember coming across a high, snowy plane, which turned out to be a large mass of water, frozen over. Sitting all along the frozen river were little sheds that looked like outhouses, each painted a surprisingly fun color. It looked like Key West meets Fargo. They were fishing shacks, for ice fishing.
I've never lived in a place cold enough or wild enough that people like to sit in a shed and fish through a hole in the ice, and I was excited to see them, interested by how foreign they were to me, and I said, out loud to myself, "OH, they are fishing sheds!!" I had to say it to myself, because there was no one on this trip with me. I remember thinking, wow, I should share that with someone, who should I call? And then I remember thinking, no, this is just for me.
This is my journey, my adventure, my solo trip to Lost Trail. And in that moment, I learned to love to be alone, I learned to be brave and be proud of myself and know that I am enough, and that I can do it.
It was a strange, exciting, and exhilarating realization to have. And I have that sensation every time I get in my car to go ski somewhere new.
So greetings from Snowbird, where I have met my roommate Jennie Kellam, who is fabulous and friendly, my massage table is all set up, the first day of freeskiing in the deeeeep manky snow is over, and I'm about to head down to our inaugural dinner for this year! Stay posted, I'm going to try to update every day!