Avoiding calamity keeps me alive.
I reroute to today’s resort because of dueling accidents on I-84 that close the interstate. Instead I bomb down I-80 at 7:00 AM through the the heart of Salt Lake City at 75 MPH to reach Park City before first chair. It sounds fast until an angry woman in a white VW Golf taps my bumper and rages past in the right lane accelerating to 90. I pass no one. Utahans (is that a word?) drive like they know the world’s gonna end and they gotta make the rapture. My car’s the latter, but I’m no saint. Charge ahead calamity.
At my rental car trunk I slather on the sunscreen, don the mask, buckle the boots, unzip the ski bag before realizing I left my ski jacket 70 miles away. The temperature is seventeen degrees with a windchill. I put on a hat, helmet, scarf and double layer the gloves. It could be a rough morning. Calamity’s a cold-hearted bitch.
Second in the lift line at the Canyons side of the PCMR I listen to the idle chatter of the lifties, the 25 year-old douche with his mask down blowing bubbles, and the married couple still chattering at one another after 40 years together when Scamp the working black lab trots from smell to smell outside the barrier that corals us early schussers. I have loved dogs all my life, but in the past seven months I have been attacked three times and bitten twice by man’s best friend. I now keep a corner of my eye on all fury, I mean furry beasts. Scamp all of one year old, with his trim, lithe body tries to sneak up behind me, lift a leg, but I side step too fast for his stream to mark me. Scram calamity.
On the top of Lead Foot, one of my oldest son’s favorite runs, I stop to take a picture to show him the icy bumps that would scare him from descending. I stand at the very edge out of the way on a gentle green run to snap my pic when out of nowhere some kid crosses his tips and hurls over them with a humph. He skids to my feet and stops. Thanks for missing me calamity.
Gliding from groomer to groomer across the mountains I lose myself in the speed, the beauty, the youthful joy of carving turns and accelerating down miles of runs in brilliant sunshine. I know I love skiing here, but I forget just how much, so much that my attention can see, hear, feel nothing else. I’m in Another World when the urges of this one press me back to urgent reality. Every facility now too far away. I duck into the trees. I scamp. I mark a special conifer. Voided calamity.
We all wish to avoid calamity. Those that we can see coming and those we do not. Sometimes calamity clothes itself in cars, COVID coughs, clumsy cross-tipped kids, or curious canines, but I think we all secretly wish we avoid it only by a hair’s breath. We crave the conflict to create the story. We all want to play the hero to our hopefully happy tales.
If we survive enough then we might deserve the après cocktail.
If we survive enough we can taste a Taco Tuesday without guilt.
I hope to never stop ripping fresh corduroy run after run. I stomp into my equipment to miss death by rocketing past an aspen an inch from my shoulder. I rip up to the edge where I lose my balance and then snatch it back.
I never feel so atop the world….
than when I am so calamitously close to leaving it.