I remember going to amusement parks as a child.
My mom always waited on the park bench. She held everyone’s bags while we kids (and often my dad) rode the coasters and tilt-a-whirls, coming back to her a half an hour later delirious, dizzy, and delighted.
“Mom!” you need to come with us!” We would beg and pull on her hands.
“I’m fine here,” she would reply.
“But you need to have some fun!” we would argue.
“I am having fun,” she replied.
We didn’t believe her. We were certain that she, sitting on the sidelines, couldn’t have been having as much fun as we were having.
Fast forward a few decades.
“C’mon!” my kids and husband often beckon me, “Join us!” Occasionally, it turns into more of an accusation: “You need to have more fun!”
Ok. In an effort to have fun one day, I decided to join my husband and youngest daughter to go downhill skiing at Buck Hill—our tiny “mountain” here in Minnesota. I am a novice skier, but I can usually get down the hill without falling.
We layered our bodies up, packed our boots, scarves, mittens, hats, and drove to Buck Hill for some fun.
Once we got there, the first step was to get my ski boots on.
Had my feet grown?
Were my socks too thick?
Was there something wrong with the boot?
They fit last year…
I don’t know, but I sat in the back of the hatch struggling for several minutes to yank the boots on. My feet cramped. My fingers began to freeze. And I started to curse and nearly cry. By the time I got the damn things on, I was annoyed and a bit embarrassed.
We walked, all wonky and lopsided, to rent skis for me; unlike my ski partners for the day, I don’t ski enough to warrant a purchase. I stood in line, filled out the form and waited on a cold, wet bench for someone to decide which skis and poles would be best.
(Somehow, I notice, my husband and daughter are patient and calm. I wish I could bottle it up and give it to them for other things, like cleaning the house, or walking the dogs.)
Finally, skis on my feet and poles in my hands, we traversed to the ski lift. Traversing is hard, hard work. I exercise regularly, but this different; I don’t have the method down. I was panting by the time we reached the ski lift to wait in the long line to the moving chairs. The wind whipped me in the face. I wrapped my scarf a little tighter around me.
It’s part art and part science to know when to drop your butt into the lift seat and not end up with a bruise on the back of your knees…or worse. Still, we made it on, all three of us side by side, and I took the opportunity to rearrange my scarf, my hat, my gloves. I almost dropped a pole in the process.
It only took a few minutes to get to the top; it’s a small hill. But that’s good, because my eyes were watering and my teeth were chattering.
Getting off: time for another carefully timed event that my life could actually depend on. Looking like a baby deer rising on new legs, I managed to get out of the way of those behind me and traversed—again with the traversing who designed this hill?—to the beginning of the run.
I told my husband and daughter that I would follow them down. As I watched them go, I smiled at the smooth confidence of my husband and the youthful energy of my daughter. In fact, if I could just stand up there and watch them…
But no, it was my turn to have fun, dammit.
So I slowly eased the tips of my skis over the edge and began taking my wide, careful s-curves down the hill. The wind was with me now, and the snow was soft and pretty. The sun was bright and the movement warmed my body. I was almost ready to admit that I was having f——
I reached the bottom. My husband and daughter grinned, ready to begin the whole damn process over again.
“You know what, guys?” I said to them. “I’m going back to the car, taking off these awful boots and getting my book. Then I’m gonna order a beer and sit in the cafe until you’re done.”
“You sure?” my husband asked with concern in his voice.
“Oh, I’m sure,” I nodded. “It’ll be fun.”
“It might be a while…”
“I’m fine. Really I am.”