Life Lessons and Snow Storms
The snow was falling all around us. We were at the summit now. I stood, staring at the snow covered ground in front of the lodge.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” my mom angrily asked me.
My eyes felt as though they were about to burst. As though a river of tears would stream down my face any second. I had no clue how to respond. How could I? I knew how stupid I had been. What I’d done. Now, I just had to take it. That was really all I could do.
I skied down the cold, icy slopes. All I could hear was the SWISH of my skis as I sped down the mountain with great speed. Not a care in the world. The wind slapping my face.
I saw the first jump of the run. My heart raced as I sped toward it. The rest of the world was but a distant memory. All of the other skiers and snowboarders around me faded into nothing. It was just me alone with the quickly approaching jump ahead. I heard the wind howling in my ears. I felt like I was flying as my skis effortlessly glided down the snow-covered flatland. My frostbitten skis turned my hands to the brink of ice. I smelled all of the overpriced lodge food still lingering in the air from before. French fries and burgers and waffles and chicken tenders. The air. It was cold and fresh in my lungs. The shiny, glimmering snow crystals were falling all around me like a shower of diamonds. All that was left to do was hit the jump. I sped up. Before I knew it, I felt a sense of weightlessness. I was in the air, the ground fat approaching. The snow enveloped me like I was part of it. I prepared, turning my legs into rubbery shock absorbers. I braced for the impact that would soon follow. But the ground did not come quickly. No, instead, I soared higher than I thought I could go. The ground was lying in wait. Soon, it would be upon me. Closer, and closer, and closer.
I then struck the ground with considerable force. This was unexpected. For a brief moment, I felt as though my knees were about to buckle. However, somehow, I managed to stick the landing. I felt the most supreme sense of joy and accomplishment as is was a high jump, far exceeding my height at the time. Then, I was surprised by my improvement over the course of just my few years of skiing. At that point, I was not even an intermediate. To think that my leg strength and body control were both good enough to land a jump of that magnitude. Amazing. To top it all off, it was a black diamond trail. At the top of the world. In Vermont. The trails in that part of the country were very hard. I realized this soon after. Joy, no… ecstasy, flooded over me (to me, this was millions of billions of snow crystals crisply and cooly hitting my face as my trusty Vertigo brand skis helped me effortlessly glide down the mountain.
The feeling continued to flood over me. And I heard a voice angrily call my name.
“Josh! Josh it that you?! Get over here!”
The voice was eerily familiar. Who could it be? Then, it hit me. I remembered the voice. It belonged to a close family friend, Mr. Paymer. Him, being a much faster and better skier than me at the time, sped over the jump with surprising ease, immediately deflating me and no longer thinking about my accomplishment. All of the pride. The joy. The feeling of accomplishment all left me.
“Your parents have been looking all over for you! Where have you been?” he asked.
“What?” I responded, not knowing what was going on.
“You just up and vanished earlier.”
With that sentence, a million pounds of brick was put on my shoulders.
Then, a Ski Patrol and a Mountain Search person went up next to him.
“Is that him?” the patrol member asked with clear relief in his voice.
Then, I thought to myself… ‘Why would s ski patrol person be looking for me? Why would it be so urgent? I just could not piece it together why someone would be so worried and afraid that they would come and look for me. Everyone knew where I was and where I was going. Right? Then is hit me. I remembered all of it. Everyone was back at the lode eating lunch. We were all in need of a break. Just sitting and laughing and eating. We were so lucky to get a spot sitting near the heater. On Mount Snow in the middle of January, that was like winning the lottery. We were about halfway through eating lunch when the other kids wanted to go back out and ski some more. The adults then contemplated this, wondering whether or not to let us go out alone. After all, is was Martin Luther King day weekend. The mountain was like a zoo. Is was way overcrowded and possibly overwhelming for an 11-year-old. After the adults finished talking the matter over and doing what adults do, we were delighted to find that they would let us go. We raced out the door as fast as a race car down a speedway.
“Come on!” I yelled back at my friends as I ran at top speed (or as fast as I could go in ski boots). I caught the first lift I saw, thinking that my friends were right behind me and would follow. Little did I know at the time that they had all lost sight of me and had went back to the lodge to tell the adults.
At the top, I saw them (by what I thought was their snow suits) and told them to follow me. They seemed confused. Why would they be confused? They knew me! (A small note: they were confused because they did not know me. Those were not my friends).
As this overwhelming thought hit me, guilt and worry and grief fell over me. I was sure in for a long trip down the mountain. I was right.
Fear started to come over me. When my mom go mad. She really got Mad. I remembered how at my 7th birthday party, one of my friends said hell and she went on a tangent about how that was wrong. She yelled so much that the kid almost started crying. I almost went into shock. I was scared. She was in view now. Just pacing. When we reached the bottom, all of the ski patrol started cheering when they saw that I was in good hands. Then, the barrage of words was released on me.
“Josh!” she yelled exasperatedly.
“We had search parties all over the mountain looking for you!”
I could hear the seething anger in her voice. It only made me feel more guilty.
“You could have been hurt or kidnapped or worse! We had not idea what happened to you or where you were. What do you have to say for yourself? You could have died. DIED!”
I was at a complete loss for words.
“I’m sorry. I just… I can’t…” I continued on sheepishly.
“I didn’t know.”
She looked at me. Yelling seemed to have taken a lot out of her. She took a deep breath. She frowned. Then a long silence. They know you are deflated. All parents are the same. They get their point across and then let you bask in the knowledge that you have done something wrong. But you know that they won’t hurt you or even punish you for what you did. It was an honest mistake. They know it. You know it. But you can’t let them know you do. Is ruins the moment of mutual understanding.
Her anger seemed to decrease a considerable amount. She may have been infuriated but she was still my mom and she knew that I had enough yelling for one day.
“The girls said that they lost you in the crowd.”
I was so confused. I had told them to follow me by the lifts.
“What do you mean ‘what’?” she asked accusingly.
“I told them to follow me by the lifts.”
“They had lost you by then, Josh.”
Then the realization hit me. The people wearing the coats just like them were not my friends at all. That must have been why they looked so confused. It all became clear to me then. I felt angry and sad and stupid and awful. I could only think about how stupid I had been. I did not want to see how bad a choice I had made. But I had to see. I then promised myself that I would never be that stupid again. Later, we tried to go about as though nothing had happened. But something had happened. Things were different. I still felt as though I had lost much of, if not all of, my mom’s respect. All the trust I had earned. Everyone else laughed about it. Tried to lighten up the mood.But everyone had an eye on me.They didn’t think that I knew. I did.One again, I remembered my promise. I have to this day honored that promise.I have not broken it. Not ever. Not yet.