Moving to the Mountains
So I know that graduate school apps and the hell that is December have been over now for almost a month, but I had to catch up with all the valuable mountain and friend time that I missed, so sorry I've been absent for so long. I've been so inspired to live that I had little room for writing. But I've finally had a moment to myself and here's a little adventure for you, all about my spontaneous move to work as a ski and snowboard instructor in the Sierra Nevada's this winter. There will be a dance segment coming soon, but seeing as I'm not currently dancing right now - except for in our living room dance parties - I thought I'd bring you up-to-date with my most current escapades.
Getting My Fill of Mountain Life – Homewood, LakeTahoe, CA
Driving up 7,000ft in a twenty-four year old refrigerator, I headed to my next five months living amongst escaped hippies raging their asses off in the frost bitten Sierra Nevadas. Loaded up with skis, board, and a closet essential to surviving the snow bunny life, my Isuzu Trooper – aka life-long partner and reliant mule – shuffled its way up the mountain toward Lake Tahoe. With my brother's old Star Wars blanket across my lap and my fingers tag teaming between the steering wheel and the crux of my thighs for warmth, I plugged in my favorite podcast and sweet-talked my old storm trooper up the mountain. Her heater among many other things were broken but her spirit was as strong as her steel exterior. We fought our way against the elements and the odds heading to our new life in the snow.
“Lake time” is a real thing. You never know what day it is until the holiday rush comes in. You can drink any night, because no matter how early you have to wake up, it's only to get onto the snow that much faster. At a small resort like Homewood, we all become family rather suddenly. Everyday, you're either all plucking kids and almost-negative din set skis out of the powder or chasing each other and some beers down a black diamond. We're instantly understanding and in league with each other. We are all there for one very important thing, and it's not the money.
Our day either goes one of two ways.
If you can get over the hangover and the fresh foot of snow on the road, you get to work in time to get paid for setting up the childrens “yard”. This involves spreading out colorful cushy objects – optimally large enough to stop or slow down what we call a “bombing” child – that mostly resemble psychedelic zoo characters, whom we have named Francisco, Gabriela, Eduardo, and Mr. Mouse. You can sense the strong influence of the “J-1's”. For those of you unaware, J-1's are the college kids who come from South America on a visa during their summer break in order to work, party, and ski just like the rest of us; some of us chase after the endless summer, they prefer the coming of winter. But whether J-1 or California native, we all set up the yard, sticking each others heads in the snow and sledding on the zoo animals as we go about our morning.
Once the Snow Rangers – 4 to 6 year-old's – are in the building, the ski school feels like trying to navigate a rowdy bar full of drunk little people. Some of them are crying and clinging to you, others are stumbling out the door and onto their faces. And then they get onto the bunny hill where it turns from rowdy bar into a frat rager. Kids picking up pieces of the ground for consummation, charging at each other into a brawl against gravity. I think it's about time to invest in a GoPro just to have proof of the miraculous survival of these little munchkins. God protects the drunks and the children, I guess.
There may be stories of the children later – I've had everything from darling prodigies to incorrigible brats – but seeing as this isn't a blog about children daycare philosophies, let's meander back to why I chose to leave everything behind and run away to Lake Tahoe to live in a cabin with debaucherous snow bunnies.
If, by some blessed hand of the ski school gods, they don't have enough students for everyone and some of you get the rest of the day off... well, it's ten in the morning, it might be sunny out, and you and your friends have six full hours to race down black diamonds together. Throw in a couple beers and you've got yourself a cheap vacation almost everyday of the week. Even when we're teaching we're constantly passing each other on the slope or hanging out in the lodge by the fire together.
It takes a certain kind of person to live the Tahoe lifestyle. Not better, nor worse than anyone else, just a particular attitude and philosophy. If we're not working, we're on the mountain anyway. It's not about being lucky, it's about deciding that this is what you want to do and actually doing it.