This. This was where I felt alive. Blood pounding between my ears, the cold an assault on my face. I flew down that mountain like I owned it, like I was born in it and knew every jut, angle, root. This was my home, my heaven, my peace. I swung my back edge around to come to a crunchy, snow throwing halt. Lauren and the guys laughed and shook their heads. They knew my routine; we had been boarding together since junior high.
All five of us joined the line; it was pretty crowded, but it always was on Black Friday. I didn’t mind; these were my kind of people, the kind that would rather spend a day slaying slopes than shelves. I’d stand in line with people like this any day. We split into pairs for the lift, and Will chattered the whole ride up. He was like stupid excited for his first run with his new board. He couldn’t stop lifting his leg to admire it, a fluorescent blue and green thing that would glow in the snow.
You couldn’t ask for a better first day than this. Days of steady mountain snowfall had created an airy blanket of cotton powder. The sky was crystal blue, so clear and bright it practically sparkled. The sun was killing me; this egg yolk orb in the sky. I listened to Will prattle on and just marveled at the fucking beauty of days like this.
We dismounted and took the face straight down. This was always Lauren’s first run of the day, down the middle so she could throw some inaugural sick tricks off the half pipe and makes us all look like amateurs. The way she ate up that half pipe terrified me. I was more of a rail guy, but the air she got off those inclines, like she was Wonder Woman. She whooped the whole way down, and her energy was infectious. Will bit it hard at the end, catching an edge on that glowing new board of his and planting in the snow face first. I doubled over with laughter, and my cheeks burned from the cold and the speed, and I loved it all.
I noticed her at the end of our second run, all of us banshees racing down the hill. Will flubbed his landing again, and we were catching our breath from the riding and the laughing when I looked up, and there she was, standing against the brown wall of the lodge. A few seconds later Tyler and Shannon joined her, and she was surrounded by a throng of kids from school. I elbowed Lauren and nodded in her direction.
“Hmmmm so she skis. I guess I can forgive her that.” Lauren pushed her goggles back from her eyes.
We watched her clunk over to the rack of skis in that awkward tin man sort of gait that ski boots give you. She looked especially jerky and unbalanced as she pulled a banged up set of orange skis from the rack.
“Check that. She is learning to ski. That makes it worse.”
I rolled my eyes at Lauren; she was such a snob on the slopes.
“I’m over this; let’s do the express.” Mike turned and waved us over.
Lauren clapped Will on the shoulder. “If his prissy little board can handle it.”
“My board is fantastic.”
“Must be the user then.”
Our laughter cut the chill around us, and we moved toward the express. I glanced back at her and kind of felt bad. She struggled to juggle all her gear, but her friends were too distracted to notice. That sucked. I mean you bring a rookie up here for a first day, and you gotta look out for them, make sure they have a phenom first time. You’re like their intro into this awesome world, and you can’t flub that. I wanted her to love it like I did, and no way Tyler or Shannon could give her that.