I was nervous. I had dreams (nightmares) the night before about traction and leg casts. My first day of heading out to the slopes at Alta Ski Resort was a bit daunting. I lodged at Alta’s Rustler Lodge, a surprisingly comfortable and unassuming hotel with a relaxing, family atmosphere. This is a ski-in/ski-out property where guests are assigned lockers for their equipment. I was so nervous at the start of my morning that it took me 10 tries to open my locker and reach my gear. I carried my skis and poles with both hands while my boots were hanging over my shoulder. I was off to Alta’s Ski School.
My instructor, Andy, was a very patient man. He showed me how to put on my skis and we went through various exercises, included sliding around on one ski at a time. I learned how to walk sideways up or down a slope and I finally put on both skis at the same time. I had no trouble with the beginnings of learning how to stop with my skis pointed in a V. No falls so far! So we were off to the next step, an actual slope where the preschoolers were learning to ski.
I stood at the top of the slope with Andy waiting halfway for me, encouraging me to start slowly sliding down. I looked around at all the preschool kids skiing in arcs and zooming down the slopes. A few were working in groups, holding on to a hula hoop while their instructor pulled them around. I looked back at Andy and began to slowly shuffle until I started to slide.
Gravity can be a wonderful thing, but for a fluffy 36 year old mama with limited coordination skills, gravity can be your worst enemy. I did start to ski. I went faster and faster, which was fine…..until it was time for me to stop. The awesome stopping skills I mastered earlier in the morning were no challenge for the incline. My right ski had no problem with assisting me; however the left side presented a problem. I have a loss of strength in my left side due to Mr. Miyagi, which I found out during my ski lesson has effected not only my left arm, but my entire left side. No matter how hard I tried to stop with my left leg, it just wouldn’t cooperate – and I fell.
I fell five times.
I didn’t hurt myself. I didn’t even bruise my pride because I embraced my inner spasticity a long time ago. What cut me inside was this brutal reminder that I am fallible and I can’t control what’s happening to me physically. I’ve been positive. I’ve been really, really positive.
When I left my lesson and returned to Rustler Lodge, instead of crying, I reminded myself about celebrating every day. I put on a bathrobe and went downstairs to the bar and ordered a glass of champagne. I sat in a comfy couch with a beautiful view of the slopes and thought about how lucky I am to have these moments and experiences. I decided that I wasn’t going to give up on the ski lessons. Instead, I’m going to find a way to compensate for my left side weakness. I am going to learn to ski. If I fall, I’ll just get back up again.