I am sitting outside on a condo porch, snow on the counter in front of me, music drifting up from the square below, sun on my face. It's that weird weather phenomenon that occurs at ski resorts where somehow a 30 degree day feels balmy enough for lunching outside, for sitting without a coat, for sunbathing.
We are in Colorado skiing. I grew up schlepping across the country to Denver as a family of six, renting a car, driving through the mountains to Steamboat Springs, during which Eli inevitably threw up; then renting skis and polls that we tried to carry over our shoulders, slashing them through the air each time we turned around, filing up the stairs into whatever condo we were staying and claiming beds; each morning, layering on clothes, socks and snow pants, lift ticket, mittens and too-tight-around-the-neck turtlenecks, smearing our faces with sunblock and chap stick and making sure our fanny packs (yes, fanny packs) were packed; then all together, already pink-faced from the layers, trudging up the hill to the base where ski school met, finding our classes, kissing goodbye, and heading out for the day. Somehow during these weeks there were groceries in the house and breakfast in the mornings. There was hot chocolate in the cabinet and a towel to grab as we ran outside to the hot tub. As I navigated my own angst about the jerky boy from Texas in my ski school class or traded phone numbers with the sweet Kiwi twins, most everything else just happened.
Fast forward twenty years with two or three ski trips peppered over the decades and here we are. This week, though our lift tickets still appeared magically (thanks, parents!), Ben and I navigated a ski trip from the other side. We trekked to the rental shop with Silas and Eden, had their feet measured, bought bright woolly socks, and rented tiny skis and helmets. We took them, both beaming and screaming, to ski school and small world (the nursery), and picked them up red-cheeked at noon. We kept track of long underwear, even washed some of it, and made sure everyone had mittens. We navigated questions of when to push and when to pour on compassion. We stood in the kitchen with my mom and sister and invented dinners, grocery lists, and cocktails. We crossed the street and filed through a hotel to use hot tubs and pools, changed everyone out of bathing suits in the quite public towel room, and made sure no one's hair froze. And made sure people slept (at least after the first long night or two) and napped.
I think probably until our dying day, we will continue to be struck, here and there, by finding ourselves on "the other side" of experiences. So much of our perception, or initial perception, is sealed into our bodies during childhood. And for the rest of our lives, it seems, we look back at how the world once looked, and see how much we missed. In those fleeting moments of wide open vistas, we change.