I took the last slope alone. After a day of falling and sliding and blaming rosy cheeks on wind chapping, I had finally mustered enough balance to enjoy some clean runs. This one was going to be all mine. (I totally would have shared it, but I think everyone was sick of doing the same beginner slope and wanted some coffee). Fortunately, I had quite a few patient teachers that helped me to repeatedly stand again, even when I fell down standing still.
The snow had been coming down all morning, but now the flakes had grown wet, with a heavy, sticky quality to them. We, being my HP HR crew, were on a ski trip in Andorra organized by the HP Young* Employee Network. It was much thicker than it had been when we arrived at the Vallnord Ski resort, and white crystals settled in my sloppy braid like frosting. Or glaze. Or maybe sprinkles. Skiing makes you hungry, ok?
I was so excited to be headed to the mountains. The Pyrenees had been calling since I hungrily eyed them from the plane as we landed in Barcelona.
This was my first time skiing, although I have ironically spent a good deal of time in ski towns in the US... The gondola lurched and swung lightly. Soothing. Yes. This is more soothing than terrifying.
It was like living in black and white, with the dark evergreens saturated in snow and hanging haze. The stark red gondola release was the only color my eyes could find.
Higher. I wonder how I could survive falling out of this basket? Higher. I wonder how I could survive if this whole basket came down? Higher. I distracted myself by focusing on how ridiculously stunning the scenery was.
Our line shuddered to a halt. The person on the bench two ahead, the only one in sight, didn’t move or scream or begin escape attempts, so I sat and waited. The Andorra mountainside was cloaked in the fat falling nieve. We smoothly resumed our climb, which relieved me of the James Bond-esque evacuation I was planning.
At the top of the long line, I put my skis down and was rudely bumped down the little hill by the lift as it wheeled away. I practiced my turns and stops and didn't fall. Practically keeping up with the kiddos. It was actually pretty fun- in stark contrast to day before when I went down a slope predominantly on my ass. I think the others thought I died, I took so long. They eventually found me with a sandwich and beer at the bottom.
I came down the slope and met up with the group. Two days in, and I can technically say I know how to ski. We grabbed coffee, laughed, and mutually griped about walking in ski boots and our aching calves.
...although, most of the weekend conversation was in Spanish- mucha motivación to get on top of my Español. I feel that I should be reaching deep into my gradeschool brainstem to pull out some fluency.
On the bus home, I sat with Ada and Laura, my roomies (we were well suited in our shared preference to go to bed early- a relative concept- and nap between activities). They pointed out lovely things from the bus window and recounted highlights from the weekend. I felt lucky. And sore.
Being in the mountains always brings me peace and makes me contemplative. Something about majesty and time and relative smallness?
It also helps with perspective. As did skiing, in it's own way. I've always had a tendency to throw the metaphorical towel in on pursuits that didn't show immediate promise. I didn't with skiing, and in some ways, this entire endeavor abroad doesn't have that option either. Patience and perseverance will be required, as well as a big dose of enthusiasm and curiosity.
While on the slopes, being hoisted again to my feet by Nuria's (co-worker extraordinaire) saintly fiancé who had taken up the cause of my ski education, I remembered Todo Llega. A small, spanish aphorism shared with me by the leasing agent who I was trying to speak in Spanish with.
"Todo llega. Everything comes." she said. Llega literally meaning to arrive.
The eventual arrival of everything at it's destination.
All in time. Two such powerfully loaded little words.
Hablando Español. Skiing. Me. You. It'll get there.
Big thoughts on a mountain you guys. Big bruises, too.