In order to appreciate the fact that I can actually snowboard at all, you have to understand how pitifully clumsy I am. (See previous entry where I struck myself in the face with my own snowboard.) I have fallen over while running on more than one occasion, with no obstacles in my path. I’ve just fallen. Over nothing. I bump into tables and doorframes frequently. I knock things over.
It is a common trait of romantic comedies to bestow clumsiness on the heroine as some endearing “flaw,” but I can assure you: clumsiness is not endearing or cute. It’s embarrassing and injurious.
So the fact that I can stand on a board and go down a mountain side at all is a marvel, and one I am proud of.
I’ve come a long way from my first misadventure at Mount Snow, when Shar and her family took me to the top of a mountain and basically said, “Go down.” Unable to stop, I fell over multiple times, slammed my head, and later vomited in the lodge.
Now, at least I can stop.
Sapporo-Teine was the closest resort to my hotel, and I reached it easily by cab. As we approached the resort parking lot, in a blustery snowfall, I was beside myself at how few cars there were. Inside, I found the locker rooms almost completely empty. It was baffling. It was exhilarating.
I sorted out my pass and braced myself for long lines at the lifts.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I maybe saw 30 people maximum throughout the entire day. (On closer look, I bet some of them were the same people, so maybe 15.)
There I was, sitting on top of a mountain in Japan, by myself. The air was vigorous and cold and clean, the snow was all powder, the trails were wide. This was good, because my first run was a disaster. I boarded into a fence and fell into a deep pillow of powder I had to army crawl my way out of. By the time I reached the bottom, I was exhausted and frustrated.
I know, I haven’t boarded in two years. But it’s frustrating knowing that basic skills you once had – turning, for example – are failing you now.
I went back up and chose a red – the intermediate, equivalent of a blue back home – and this time, on more of an incline, everything came back. In my own mind, I was speeding down the side of the mountain like Jeremy Jones in one of his crazy documentaries. In reality, I was much slower, but hell. It was fast enough for me, and good fun.
By late afternoon, the sky had clouded up again and an unrelenting snow had moved in. I opted for a black back down to the base, which involved me getting lost on a weird woman’s slalom that was cluttered with chunky blue ice balls.
En route back to my hotel, I started to feel a little disappointed at how quickly the day had gone by. Then I realized that I had an entire week ahead of me to snowboard. This is something to get used to. Boarding back home usually involves a 2+ hour journey to the Poconos or New York or, rarely but wonderfully, Vermont. You board all day long and then drive home, unsure of when you’ll get back out there again.
Here, I had days on hand. I could snowboard tomorrow, or not. I could board all day, or just in the afternoon, and go again on another day. After all, I’d only just arrived in Japan the day before.
I feel like I never have enough time in Manila, or in life. I actually had to rewire my brain to adjust to the fact that here, in Japan, at least for a week, I had the exquisite luxury of time.
That thought spilled over me with the same comfort of sinking into a hot bath on a frigid afternoon (something I would do later that day). I cranked up my new Macklemore and settled back into the warm drive back to the hotel.