Monday, March 22, 2010
Couch Surfing makes for instant friends and good late nights.
I rolled into Telluride last night at about 8pm, driving a rental car with a radio! Its been so long since I drove a car with windows, I could talk on my phone and actually hear the other person, I could roll up the windows and turn up the tunes, the tires aren't bald... the transmission works, it doesn't scream like a banshee when you turn left because it needs power steering fluid... and it only took a half a tank of gas to drive all the way from Aspen to Telluride. Yes, indeedy do.
The town here is cooler than I ever expected, I envisioned it as some sort of Jackson Hole, with boardwalks and western theme redoux, but its not. It reminds me of the Venice Beach canals crossed with that section of San Francisco thats all full of Victorians, but full of tele skiing hippies.
I haven't had a chance to explore the town much yet, as I was lucky enough to find a couch to crash on at my friend Annie's house, and we stayed in drinking tea and talking all night. Annie is an incredible woman, I met her in Crested Butte at Alison Gannet's Rippin Chix camp last year (where I learned to huck my meat modestly), and she has three kids, 14, 8, and 6 and is a single mom, ski instructor and massage therapist. Yes. There's lots of us.
They also have a room mate, just like I do, and his name is Paulie. He's an actor and a ballet dancer, and the son of seasoned mountaineers.
After we did some emergency surgery on Paulie's boot banged toe (hot paperclip through the toenail and press the puss out) we all got to talking about this life we've chosen in the mountains.
Paulie lost his mom and stepdad when he was very young, she died summiting Everest. Annie's teenaged daughter lost her dad in a similar fashion at a young age, and we started to chat about what its like to be a parent, like Weems and Nancy, who lost their son Wallace last year, or what its like to be a child of a parent who dies, like Doug and Emily Coomb's son, who is the same age as my son Bodhi.
I lost my dad when I was 13, and while he was doing something that he loved, it wasn't living outside in the mountains and pursuing his bliss, it was escaping a life that couldn't make him happy. My dad drank himself to death.
I think about these things a lot, because people have asked me if I should be skiing in the back country, if I should be skiing in the trees, if I should aspire, as I do, to ski mountaineering, if I should be learning to jump off rocks on my skis.
I don't have answers, but I do know that Paulie's mom inspired him, and continues to inspire him every day. I know that while the lack of Wallace brings a hollowness that I can't begin to fathom to Weems, the gift that he was burns bright in people who have never even met him, and I watch Weems hold that and be filled with pride and inspiration about it.
I know that I remember my own dad as an incredible figure, he was huge, 6'3", an opera singer, a cuddler, with a rumbly bear like voice and a sense of humor that made people laugh and feel at ease instantly. I miss him every day, but I'm not angry at him for living so briefly in my world.
I think that what I walk away from after talks like this is that the important thing is that you make a bold choice that makes you feel you are honoring your life path. I think every person has to measure what makes sense for them as far as risk in their life goes.
Shane McConkey died and left a three year old daughter and a wife. I didn't know him personally, but my guess is that he valued and loved both of them deeply, with a passion that a person who makes a bold choice in their life is capable of. I'm sure that after the 700+ jumps he'd made, he felt that his risk was acceptable. I don't think that this is something that can be measured by anyone else. I think that its risk that should be measured, and thought on, but I think that ultimately, to live in your world vibrantly, and presently, you have to make peace with yourself and only yourself on that measure. And that measure is different for all of us.
I agree that you can get hit crossing the street. I have been more injured driving my truck to school than I ever have been skiing. (Although I've lost count of the bones I've broken in the last four years, but that's not the point.)
I don't know what's right, I don't know that there IS a right. I believe that to be the best mom I can be, I need to love my children fiercely, let them feel that they are my heart, let them know that they help my skis turn and my feet plod up the mountain, let them know that they are the blue sky to me, and make choices in my life that make me feel alive, connected, and like I'm giving back.
I choose not to stay inside my nest, lest I get rear ended in my truck or something avalanches, or I wouldn't have a heart to give to them.