Together, on the Mountain - Thursday, Feb. 02, 2023
Monday, Jan. 09, 2023 @ 11:36 am
Ski Instructor Training
I pull off my layers of Gore-text and fleece, place my sodden gloves onto the basket helpfully installed under my chair. The cafeteria is buzzing with chatter and the clatter of trays and dishes. The clomping of heavy, plastic ski boots on the low-pile mats that cover the tiled floor. The smell of coffee and French fries.
Morgan sits down beside me and similarly peels off his rain-soaked layers. I see the shape of his body more clearly, his inner layers of merino revealing a strong body and an endearing soft belly that pushes over the top of his fastened ski pants.
We met on Friday night at the orientation session. After talking with the woman seated beside me, I turned around and introduced myself to him. One look at his face, and I was undone. Softness, warmth, humility. Wearing a down puffy and leather boots and neither tall nor short enough to have a large ego. Conversation flowed effortlessly. The course conductor tried to start teaching, and he directed a pointed stare our way.
The next morning, we all meet before sunrise at the base of the gondola. After a roll call, we all pack into the iconic red Swiss-made gondola car and travel up the mountainside as the sun begins to rise over the still-twinkling city. We tromp through slush to the yurt to stash our daypacks and then gather outside and break into teams. There’s a mad scramble while the skiers and snowboarders split apart in a dance like chromosomes separating during mitosis.
I look around my group. I blink. There’s Morgan.
We spend that day and the next alongside each other. I guide him blindfolded through the busy day lodge. I balance the sit ski while he buckles himself into the seat. We ride the lift together, sometimes chatting and other times quiet, watching the wet snow fall heavily on the evergreen coastal forest. When we are released from a session, we ski down the remainder of the run in a game of cat and mouse, us both skiing fast and playfully down the expanse of slush. We arrive at the lift line well before the others, and we stand there together, equally out of breath. He is an excellent skier, but he doesn’t show off. I glance at him often, studying his face. Wanting to know more.
Back in the cafeteria, my wet gloves stowed below me, I stare at his hands. He rests his loosely-clasped hands on the table, and I study each finger carefully while listening to the instructor talk. My heart is racing, and my face flushes, and I can barely resist the urge to reach over and slip my hand into his. Of course, I do nothing but quietly sit and listen.
At the end of the weekend, the instructor hands us our pins as proof of our new certification. The group is asking each other about the upcoming course schedule, about which course we will be teaching. Morgan says Wednesday nights. He turns to me.
“On which night are you teaching?” he asks.
“Wednesday nights,” I reply.