A Shiver in Faith
Kyle skis Eldora, thanks to his dad.
I’m starting to wonder if I’m sleepwalking through life. the ink inscribed in my ankle had begun to lose meaning, my sleep pattern shifting from late nights and darkness to early mornings and soaking in the few rays of winter. Daily, I arise before dawn, scraping away the bits of hair that appears like a fungus overnight on my cheek. I stare at myself in the mirror and wonder if it’s really me staring back, or some strange doppelganger, his goatee proving his evil nature. In truth, I wonder if the goatee is actually an indication of good, my full beard, long since departed, a sign of moral ambiguity and satanic tendencies. After all, the goateed face that stares back is that of the model citizen I never envisioned myself being.
At the beginning of December, I started work as a ski instructor. My talents on snow are hardly world class, but the opportunity to glide alongside tiny babbling penguins hearkened to a desire I’ve ignored for too long. When I return from a day lifting the bodies and spirits of the wee ones as they try and gain a footing on the icy slopes, I have but the energy to create a slapdash gourmet meal and crawl into the seductive arms of the night. My writing, games, social life, and utterly blissful being have all fallen by the wayside.
And yet I am happy.
I arrive at work every day with a sense of wonder and excitement, ready for the cold, for games, for crying and tantrums, for blinding white reflections and snowy escapes. And no matter how well or badly the days goes, whether I’m chided for my novelty at the job or failure at inspiration, or praised for soothingly purring my paltry french until a tiny tyke returns from the brink of destruction, I leave with smile and sense of accomplishment. The pay may be minute, but the reward is infinitely large.
In the last week, as my hours have risen and the promise of the job has grown, as my name and face have slowly become recognizable among the seasoned vets and rookies alike, I’ve found myself adapting to the reality of now. Gone are my thoughts of grad school, my anxious pangs of finding recommendations and wondering if I’m about to steep myself in debt for naught. The second guessing is both at a fervor, wondering if perhaps the field of law is the wrong choice, and at an all time low, as I simply don’t have the time nor energy to waste on such frivolous pursuits.
There, in that strangely liberal world of hippies, educators, skiers and those of us who crave a migrant flow to life, even if it’s simply from the top of the mountain to the base, I’ve found what can only be described as a family of sorts. The wondrous personalities and characters that convene to bring life to the ice is one built on the kindness of others.
“We’re not here for the money,” we all tell each other, the fears of our minuscule paychecks and sporadic work hidden beneath the knowledge that there’s something more important at stake. Somehow, we’ll make ends meet, and it will be because each of us helps the other. Eldora may call itself a resort, but it’s far more like a commune than the cold, calculating business speckled across the mountainous Rockies.
All is not well, however.
In the last 3 days, I’ve had nearly three hundred dollars worth of equipment vanish. My gloves, large enough to sate the grandest of men, disappeared from between my skis as I attempted to aid my tiny students with their equipment. For that, I felt shame, for it was as much my fault for not secreting them away them in a pocket as it was the thief for taking them. Though upset I may have felt, I finished the lesson smiling, my heart warm, and my hands cold and bare. Not two days later, my helmet and goggles went missing from my locker, hidden in an employees only building. The anger and disappointment I felt was barely tempered by the joy of teaching. After all, we all know how little we make and how expensive our equipment is.
There comes a time in every man’s life where his faith in humanity is shaken. I admit my faults and habits are not always upright, prim, and proper, but I’ve never sunk so low as to assault the trust of those whom I see as my equals.
Tomorrow, I will cross the cavernous canyon, wending my way back up to the snow packed slopes to ride again with the little folk. In my possession will be a small metallic lock and a few flimsy paper prayers, and with the greatest sadness I will divide myself from the others and remind myself that even in a house built of passion and love, darkness can hide beneath every kind word and smile.