Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"snowboarding is an activity that is very popular with people who do not feel that regular skiing is lethal enough. "--dave barry

a teacher. a soccer fan. a lover of art and all things beautiful. a snowboarder? no, not really. lets be perfectly honest, i had never even been on a snow-covered mountain, or had not until i took the big leap. marisa, the floridian, the complainer every time a place is colder than 69 degrees, the lover of warmth and sunlight, was hitting the slopes.

in my mind's eye, i envisioned myself being terribly brave, (since not only am i a cold weather hater, but also not so much a lover of heights) donning cute snowboarding clothes while easily gliding down the hills.

now, being a realist and knowing my mind's eye had fooled me many a time before, i decided to prepare for this brave new adventure. i did the only things i knew how to do: read and visualize. i read up on how to learn snowboarding, why it's better than skiing, and the nightly ritual of envisioning the mountain (or hill rather) and me on the board, standing, not lying flat on my face. i figured, if you build it (or in my case imagined it) it will come, right?

as an added precaution, i signed up for the "burton snow board academy” where the reassuring "testimonials" could convince any reader (and myself) that they would be in for the “time of their life" and all fears would diminish.

i was ready.

with waterproof, winter weather clothes in tow, i headed with friends to lake tahoe. finding myself up early that saturday morning i was a bit like a kid on her first day of school, excited but also terribly nervous. was i really doing this? there was no turning back now, the credit card was charged and i was on my way.

before i continue let me tell you a little bit about my "look" for the day. seeing as how this sport runs a little on the expensive side, i wasn't ready to commit so i was left with borrowing clothing from my dear sister who was kind enough to share. unfortunately, when she said, "they are a little big” she meant XXL (on a 5 foot tall frame it should paint a nice mental picture).

unlike my "snowboarding visions” here i was, in large black and a big poofy borrowed black ski coat. However, my token snowboarder chick beanie and glasses saved me from total fashion disgrace.

with pass in hand, i was off. swish swish swish went the pants as i wandered alone through the ski village. Onto the gondola to "mid mountain" and although mid-mountain sounded a little ominous, i was grateful to be stopping there and not continuing to the peak.

making my way through the snowy hill, i finally spotted the white-tented "burton snow board academy." two extraordinarily friendly snowboarders promptly greeted me. katie just smiled, asked if i was “so stoked for this,” reassured me that a great time would be had, and there was nothing to fear. patiently, i awaited my snowboarding fate. no turning back now marisa, you can do this. you are tough. you are totally capable. and you are definitely cute snowboarder chic material.

slowly, but surely hoards of people trickled into the tent. in came parents dropping off teenagers, nervous adults, overly confident men, and my classmates for the day. L came first. she was a 30- something beautiful woman who looked much cuter in her gear, but just as nervous as i did. we smiled. i started chatting right away and she explained how her husband had wanted her to learn so they could go together, yadda yadda yadda. a story i completely understood. then came our younger counterparts. two somewhat awkward 14-year-old girls, one an expert skier with previous snowboard experience and the other a first timer, like the rest of us.

we made some nervous small talk as we anxiously waited for our “coach"-- shep. our man for the day. right away i smiled as he greeted us with enthusiasm, AND a charming british accent. if worse came to worse with this experience, the accent would be with us all day. he walked us through getting our gear and various practice moves we would be putting into use once we headed to the snow.

hey, this was easy. i was feeling good. i was already doing well. piece of cake. oh, wait. that's right. we hadn't headed outside yet. as the "ready to get out there" smoothly slid out of shep's mouth, i took a deep breath, grabbed my board, and we were off: our motley crew of first timers.

thank heavens for the clear blue sky and sunshine, it made the florida girl inside feel a little more at home on the slick snow. first we just practiced moving around with one foot on the board. ahh! did this board have a mind of its own?!? The snow was definitely slicker than it looked. i took a minute to process. apparently, i had imagined snow to be sticky, yet easy to slide on? and yes, i do realize that supposing my board was going to remain steady and firmly planted on the ground was a bit ridiculous.

of course it was going to slide around, which is the whole point of this activity; the adrenaline rush as you carve down the giant slope.
ok. information processed. ready.

we finally were firmly (and i use that term loosely) planted, both feet in, ready to be gently pushed of the smallest half-pipe in the world. shep came with us the first time. and then it was on our own. i did fine, until i apparently thought the best and most helpful thing to do was to wave my arms around in circles, as if trying to bring in a 747. hmm. kept my balance. wounded my pride. all was well, no spills yet.

the day continued and surprisingly enough, even with a few fall, i was having so much fun. though the baby hills still appeared enormous, every time i managed to stay upright and make it down alone, seemed triumphal. plenty of falls came as well, but none as bad as i had envisioned.

after a full and tiring day of this new adventure, i left the ski resort smiling. i had done it. not well, but i had done it.

with chapter one of my snowboarding adventure behind me, i am ready to commence chapter two as soon as the snow begins to fall...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

it seems like my writing hiatus has been noticed by my loyal readers (and by loyal readers i mean reader. my best friend) i figured i could jot down a few of my thoughts today. i feel content. summer makes me happy. simple, yes, but true. liberty comes with july and august and i revel in it. from sleeping in to staying up late just because i can. from picking up new hobbies to reading for hours on end. from midday movies to fun adventures. revelry all around.

today, sitting on the beach, watching the heavily clouded horizon and listening to the lulling, calming sounds of the surf, i breathed deeply. peace. it hasn't been a permanent resident in my soul this summer, but it was here. life isn't perfect, but it is life. i live. i breathe. i experience. i find purpose. i explore. i try. i fail. i fall. i get up. i live. and what a glorious thing it is.