Thursday, Feb. 02, 2023 @ 12:05 pm
Together, on the Mountain
Teaching. Skiing. Morgan.
Of course, Morgan. But it’s more than just him.
As I’m driving home after my evening lesson at the hill, my insides feel beyond full. The happiness is so expansive that my insides ache and tears form at the corners of my eyes.
Arriving at the base, I approach a man that I met last week. He smiles and greets me by my name. After a moment, Morgan arrives. We look directly at each other. Seeing the shape of his face fills up an empty part inside of me. I can’t stop staring.
Morgan and I talk while we wait for our students to arrive. While he’s talking, I study his face, his posture, the way that he moves his hands, the shape of his mouth. I resist the thought, but still it arrives: I want to kiss him. It’s okay to be human.
He asks me a question about something that happened in my lesson last week. Later, thinking about the question, I realize that he somehow took the time to find out about my lesson last week. Was he watching me? Did he talk about me with someone else? I overthink it all like a fifteen year old with a highschool crush.
Our students arrive, and we part ways.
Up on the hill, a situation arises, and I’m left alone with my student. I’ve never done this before. I shove my insecurities to the side. This lesson is not about me. I explain my plan to the student, give them instructions, and then we are off.
As I lead them down the hill, pausing to let them catch up and give encouragement, I discover that I’ve become a ski instructor for children with autism. I thought I’d just be a helper, but the helper stage was brief and has passed. I can do this. Actually, I’m good at this.
There is a moment where the student has a little fall and is laying on the ground. I let them lay there for a moment, and then I sit down beside them and start talking about one of their interests. I know about co-regulation and want to see if it works to help calm their frustration. They perk up. Surprisingly quickly, the failure of the fall is forgotten and they’re chattering away about a video game. The skis are back on, and we’re continuing down the run.
At the bottom of the chair, the student re-organizes themselves so that they can sit beside me for the duration of the ride to tell me more about the game. My heart swells and in turn, my insecurities shrink.
The lesson is over, and I’m shuffling with the student along the flats back to the rental shop.
“How would you rate the lesson out of ten?” I ask.
“8.99/10 because I fell down a lot,” they reply.
Will I ever tire of the magic of connecting with another human? Is there anything better in life than making someone smile? Of giving them an opportunity to grow and being there to witness their journey?
I can explain the series of events that led to me becoming involved in this, but there is an intangible magic of having found a calling that fills up every corner of my being so perfectly. There is also a certain magic in reinventing myself, over and over.
Teaching. Skiing. Morgan.
My grandfather’s ashes spread through the forest, just over there. My grandfather riding this gondola over and over and over, and perhaps I’m standing in the exact same spot.
His breath and my breath. Breathing the same air.
Together, on the mountain.