I am listening to some new music from the past year. Guided By Voices came out with two albums in 2014. I really like this song from Cool Planet. A new GBV album will always have at least one great song on it, and this is my favorite.
I’ve been thinking a lot about newness. This week, I am posting mostly new songs. It is a new calendar year, so newness is on my mind.
I did something new for me on Sunday. I drove to State College and learned how to ski. Owen likes to ski, but he won’t let me take him skiing until I learn how to do it myself. He does not want to be the only kid whose dad is tripping over his skis on the bunny slopes.
I drove to State College and got the beginner’s special Sunday package: skis, a lift pass for the beginner slope, and lessons. Mason was my teacher. He taught me to ski. More accurately, Mason taught me to stop skiing. I was never worried about being able to move on skis. I was always worried about stopping. Mason taught me to stop. After learning the basics from Mason, I spent the afternoon teaching myself to ski, stopping and starting and turning on numerous trips downhill. I went up and down the lift twenty or thirty times until I felt comfortable on skis. Now I can take Owen skiing.
I was on the lift a lot. It is a short ride, but long enough for me to check my phone and send a message or two. I took a picture of the slope and sent it to Owen with the message, “Lessons!” On one trip, I took a selfie. When I looked at the picture, I was surprised to see how I looked. In my picture, I had a beard and an unexpected tiredness in my eyes. I have had the beard for four months, but it seemed shockngly foreign. The last day I shaved was August 21. The beard is not new, but my appearance surprised me. I am not sure why. Maybe it is because learning to ski is something young people do, like the six-year-old girl zipping past me with her dad. I should have done this when I was younger, I thought. When I saw my own picture, I was surprised to be in the present at age 42: David with a beard. The cold air and icy slopes and awkward feeling of new skis and the new freedom I gradually felt from learning to glide across the slopes zigzagging downhill helped me feel young. I saw my own picture, and I was reminded of where I actually was in time.
It reminded me too of what was missing. On one trip up the lift, I looked to my left and told my companion that I was glad he was there with me too. I spoke aloud to him on the lift. I thanked him for pushing me forward to come out here on a Sunday and spend the time and money on figuring all this out, for myself and for his brother. I told him I was glad he came down from running the difficult slopes to check in on me while his friends did another run from the top of the mountain. I thanked him for his patience when I was frustrated, unable to stop myself with my skis for my first awkward hour. I apologized for not doing this sooner when we could have done it together for real. When the lift reached the top, we both slid forward to the top of the bunny slope. I did not have to encourage him or ask him, but I knew he was sliding down the hill on his snowboard behind me, checking on how well I, the reluctant novice, was doing on my first day skiing.