When I was growing up in northern New Jersey our town’s Rec Center used to hold ski trips. The kids would meet in front of the Rec Center, board a bus and head up to Vernon Valley for an afternoon of skiing. There were times where my mom and I, while running errands in town, would pass the Rec Center and I’d watch all the kids lined up with their bags and their skis waiting for the chartered bus to pick them up.
And I was so envious of them.
I grew up in a pretty wealthy town. We were not wealthy. We weren’t on skid row or anything, but there was no extra money to be spent on nonsense like lift tickets and ski rentals. So, Rec Center ski trips were out of the question for me. I acted like I didn’t care – like those kids were all assholes.
Some of them were. But a lot of them weren’t. They were kids I ate lunch with, or might walk part of the way home with. But they could afford to go on the Rec Center ski trips, and I couldn’t. So like any brooding teenager is apt to do, you viewed them with a cool loathing rather than blatant envy.
I did eventually ski though. While I might not have been able to go on the Rec Center trips, my Junior year in high school I became friends with this guy Paul whose parents had a house by Hunter Mountain. Ah Hunter… One of Upstate New York’s finest ski lodges.
For the next 6 years or so, Paul would call me on a random Thursday night and say, “We’re heading up to Hunter tomorrow…wanna come?” It wasn’t always winter either. Sometimes we went up in the summer and attended a festival at Hunter Mountain. Sometimes we just went up for some R & R. But if it was winter? We went skiing.
I was never a great skier, but I learned how to hold my own on the intermediate slopes. I only rode an actual ski lift a few times and dreaded/planned my departure from the chair the entire way up. My trip down would take my about 25 minutes as I would slowly shoosh my way down making a very wide, very horizontal path.
Susie Chapstick I was not.
I remember one weekend a whole bunch of us went up to Paul’s house. It had snowed gangbusters the night before so conditions were going to be phenomenal. The day turned out being a real keeper – temps hit the mid 50s; folks were skiing without coats. We went back to the house, put beach chairs in the snow and drank a case of beer.
It was AWESOME. I left Hunter in February with a sunburn.
My best ski trip ever though, was when I was in Austria. When I took my semester abroad, our school sent us on a ski trip to Semmering. Having not skied in a while, I decided to use the free ski instruction the lodge provided. Our teacher’s name was Norbert, which I found humorous…were his parents undecided between Norman and Burton?
Nobert? He turned out to be a real perv. While doing snowplow turns down the bunny slope, he would shoosh up behind me, wedge his skis between mine and push his pelvis against my ass in very firm, very suggestive manner. It wasn’t just me… he did it to all the girls. He got very drunk at the lodge party later that night and tried very hard to grind us a wee bit more on the dance floor.
But during that day, as I made my way down the slopes an hour south of Vienna, I thought about those kids that used to go on the Rec Center’s ski trips. I could never go, but here I was in Austria. AUSTRIA. On skis. Me.
Beats the hell out of Vernon Valley.