I find myself nodding off on a trip going up north to meet the snow and the mountains. I’ve always been a skier, but with newfound confidence and YouTube I find myself paired with a snowboard.
The group I am with is small and I know no one. My hands tremble as I introduce myself with my small voice and they all tell me to stop being shy and open up. One man, with particularly expressive eyes and a drink in his hand takes an interest in me.
He smells of beer and smoke. I stiffen when he walks near me. He’s also covered in tattoos but his eyes look so kind.
“If they tell you you can’t be here because you’re nineteen, let me know. I’ll protect you.”
“Thank you,” I say, my voice barely audible over the deafening roar of people, their drinking and their voices over the music.
“Why can’t you look me in the eye?”
The bluntness stops me and I look him in the eye and look away, he shifts to follow my gaze.
“You’ve got to loosen up. Honestly.” He laughs, smiles, and pats my back. He brings me some water as I’m too scared to move from my position. He takes a seat next to me and attempts to talk to me.
“You’re always like this?”
“Yes, when I first meet people.”
“I won’t hurt you, honest.” He holds out his pinky finger and having never had a pinky promise I smile and hold out my pinky. He pats my back again and continues to get stifled replies from me. I’m beginning to like him, despite his habits, and I find myself warming up slowly. Angry I made such a bad judgment.
The next day I meet my destiny. I’m at the top of a mountain, still confused about the night before and I have not taken any lessons. I strap the board on my feet and I slide down.
I’m on my back, the wind is thrown out of my body pretty violently. My beanie floats above the ice-covered ground and I feel a sharp pain on my right thumb.
I get up again. This time a face plant. My left cheek is bruised a cherry red with a trickle of blood, my nose is bleeding now.
Its all a metaphor for my fears culminating into one single event. My fear for talking to people is translated to my fear of falling, which happens more often than not.
My tally half-way down the mountain is as follows:
Five face plants
A bruised cheek
A bleeding nose
A jammed thumb
Holes in my gloves
Bruises on the knees
After I made it to the halfway mark, my attitude kicks in and I control it. Suddenly I’m not scared anymore. I’m going down the mountain, slowly at first, feeling the grooves of the powdered snow and ice respectively. I go from heel edge to toe edge with ease and suddenly things make sense. I feel in my element.
They are waiting for me at the bottom of the mountain. Their eyes looking for the small woman in pink. I appear and glide the best I can in front of them to a stop.
“I feel like a different person.” I say loudly.
“What do you mean?”
I hear a song in the distance and I begin to sing. They look at me with the strangest eyes, seeing the revelation unfold.