When my daughter and I arrived today for our sixth and final snowboard lesson, Blue-eyed Instructor noticed my new snowboard immediately. "You bought a snowboard! You have gear! This means you are committed!"
He was so enthusiastic about my purchase, examining the board, checking it for flexibility, and pronouncing it perfect, that I could not help smiling. I recognized his enthusiasm, of course, because I am a teacher myself. It's always wonderful when your student not only learns the basics of what you are teaching, but catches your love of what you are doing. I feel that way when a student stops by my office to tell me she went to a poetry reading or talks to me about a book he read over the summer.
I'd had a miserable night, waking from a nightmare and unable to sleep, and an even more miserable morning, getting up to find that one of our cats had climbed into the open drawer of good ski socks and was peeing on them, an event that I did not handle with grace or humor. But the weather conditions at the ski slope were just perfect: lots of snow and temperatures in the high 20s. And the company was perfect: Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter can change my mood with just her presence.
What a difference from our first lesson. We both were flying smoothly down the slope, carving back and forth, turning with pretty good control, able even to maneuver around the clumps of beginner skiers who make the mountain an obstacle course. Our dismounts from the chair lift were not exactly perfect – we stand too close together getting off and tend to run into each other, which often means we end up in a tangled heap – but still we felt like confident, competent boarders.
"I told you!" Blue-eyed Instructor kept saying. He was as happy and triumphant as we were.
At lunch time, we had cake with the whole gang to celebrate Blonde Niece's birthday, and then spent the afternoon snowboarding some more, showing off our skills to the rest of the family. What I love most about learning a new sport is that it leaves me no time to think. Concentrating on what my body is doing – bend the knees, keep weight forward, drop the shoulder – leaves no room in my head for any melancholy thoughts. Riding up in the chairlift with my daughter, just talking about stuff and admiring the way the sun was shining on the whole snow-covered mountain, was a wonderful break between runs.
Tonight I am physically exhausted from a day spent outside in the fresh air. And that means tonight I will sleep well.