** On the left: What Russ and I snowboarded.
**On the right: What everyone else did, and what Russ tried yesterday.
Today is our Anniversary. We were married January 18, 2019 at the tail end of the longest government shutdown in American history. Looking back now, the shutdown was just a prep for the real fallout, little more than a year later. Lots of people were out of work then too, standing in pantry lines, and nothing of significance was open—not the fun stuff, like museums, and not the necessary stuff, like the DMV, or say, a courthouse.
The Mayor approved a temporary permit for weddings, the day before we were supposed to get married in the courthouse, that had been closed for the previous four weeks. They didn’t return our fees already paid, but we managed to marry, on our set date, in an administrative office designated to handle these things until the shutdown ceased.
There was no Honeymoon, only a quick weekend to Wintergreen for snowboarding. The condo we rented was borderline offensive. We were afraid to sit on the couch, or use the utensils in the kitchen. The lines for the lifts looped back and forth like paper clips lined up next to each other. We stood for a bit, but after not moving a fraction in time, we bailed. I hadn’t been back to Wintergreen since my college days and I decided then, tarnishing the good memories I had by creating vastly underwhelming ones, was a terrible idea.
Russ and I love to snowboard. It’s sort of our thing. The first time we went was in Riodoso, NM. The second time was in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Then we went back to New Hampshire again, then to the Poconos, and now, for our Honeymoon, Jackson, Wyoming.
This is my fifth time snowboarding in four years. Every time I strap my board on the first day, I am consumed by nerves. This time was no different. But it only takes a couple runs to find the door to my groove. Facing the mountain today, I had my first hard fall. I fell backwards and landed on my ass so hard, the force continued down my spine, slamming the back of my head against the ground, on its way out the tips of my roots. My doubt, doorman to my fear, echoed its mantra: “I told you so, Grasshopper.” But I agreed with it, taking the air out of its sails and shutting it up, so I could carry on.
Russ is a really good snowboarder. Actually, he’s good at any sport he chooses to play. That’s just how it is for him. Yesterday, our first day on the mountain, he decided he was done warming up, and headed to the bigger runs. He walked over to the first lift, the tallest one, and it said “Experts Only.”
He thought that was bullshit, but the mountain was straight up, or more importantly, the run went straight down. I said, “Mmm, how about this other one?” It didn’t go up quite as far. We walked over only to see the same sign: “Experts Only.”
“That’s just some bullshit they post so they don’t get sued!”
I disagreed, but wished him well.
“See you at the bottom, Sweetie.”
I watched his chair make its way into the trees and I lost sight of Russ.
I looked, and watched, and waited.
I looked, I watched, and I waited some more.
I kept waiting.
I looked around because I thought he might come out on the other end of the mountain.
I called his cell.
I walked to the other side of the mountain to see what I could see.
I called him again.
I waited ten more minutes and called him again.
It took the full hour, but then I was in full panic mode. I considered who it was I should notify to go look for him.
Wouldn’t other skiers stop if they saw a crumpled body off to the side?
Or were they going too fast?
I was twirling around, trying to decide who I should approach for help, when off in the distance I thought maybe I glimpsed the shadow of Russ, walking toward my side of the mountain, carrying his snowboard.
Can I really see “his walk” from this far away?
Well…he’s walking…so that’s good.
Sure enough, it was Russ.
The run was long and narrow, and he ended up walking down most of the way, which took most of an hour, and he wasn’t carrying his cell phone. My relief seeing him safe was palpable. We were both exhausted—me from worrying and Russ from trekking on foot down the mountain for an hour.
I squeezed him hard, sighing relief.
I said, “This almost turned out to be the worst Honeyversary ever!!”
“I know, right?!”
That was yesterday, but today was a different day. The snowboarding was fantastic. We stayed on the little hill, practicing, and I finally learned how to turn the front edge of my board into the mountain. Now I can ride both the front and the back of my board. Just like that, my skill set doubled, which is one of the perks of being a beginner again!
Tomorrow, Russ and I are going to Jackson Hole to snowboard. They have a few more greens to explore, and a gondola all the way to the top of the mountain. Tonight, we are wrapping up our anniversary with dinner at Merry Piglets, Jackson’s oldest Mexican food restaurant, because besides snowboarding, we share a love of good margaritas.
Our Honeyversary started a little shaky, but our anniversary was a blast. That sums up our marriage pretty well. After all, you can’t bake a cake without breaking a couple of eggs first.