As I jolt awake, I slam my head against the cheap motel headboard and let out a scream.
Surely, there’s a nicer way to wake someone up. This is our first vacation together, after all. But oddly enough I’m not all that surprised he had turned the alarm clock on full blast at 6AM.
My boyfriend is already dressed in his snow gear and looking up directions to the ski resort on his iPhone. I beg for just nine more minutes of snooze time. After all, my flight to Denver had just arrived a mere six hours ago! My request is flatly denied, as the covers are thrown off of me and I crawl towards my overstuffed duffel bag.
I chug a Red Bull, gnaw on a Cliff Bar, and take my first glimpse of the Colorado Rockies as we pack up and pull out of the parking lot. As I drive up the winding roads to Copper Mountain, I open my eyes wider than they had been in months. Looking forward to this snowboarding trip with my boyfriend had been the only thing that had gotten me through the worst breakup I’d ever been through and a miserable nine-to-five job. I glance at my watch and see that it’s not even 9AM yet. I smile as I remember that today will not be spent in that godforsaken office..
I park the car and we take the shuttle to the slopes. I’m doing my best to hide how nervous I am, as I try to remember how to strap my boots on to the board. I just started snowboarding last year, and my ex-boyfriend was a painfully impatient and critical coach. I feel my boyfriend playfully knocking the edge of his board against mine. Remembering my deep yoga breaths, I flop onto the ski lift and grab his gloved hand.
I quickly discover that he is a professional on the slopes, and he quickly discovers that I spend more time on my ass than on the board. I notice how patient he is with me after each of my wipe outs and breakdowns. But shortly thereafter, we decide to split up for the afternoon, promising to meet after the lifts make their last run.
I return to the same green trail for my second attempt, which is going only slightly better than the last one. I fall only three times, and despite my unsightly technique, I’m feeling more comfortable gaining speed. I decide that for my final trail, I will challenge myself on one of the dreadful blue routes. I stumble off of the lift and scurry towards the side to get out of everyone else’s way. I feel a wave of nausea, as I strap on my boots and stand up to see how far down the bottom is. With the warmth of the sun on my face, I take a deep breath before attempting the most difficult trail of my life.
I fall once, twice, three times, and then more than I can count. I burst into tears from my frustration. My knees are bleeding and my tailbone feels broken. Other boarders whiz by me, and and occasionally ask if I’m alright. I take a seat in the snow and pull my camera out of my inside jacket pocket. I feel my heart rate slow down and snap a few pictures of the beautiful scenery around me.My heart rate slows down and I remember I’m luck to be here. I’ll never make it to the X Games, but I’m having an experience that I’ll never forget. I pop in my ear buds and crank up some Linkin Park, ready to conquer this mountain.
Everything feels simpler and I only fall once before reaching the bottom. I feel satisfaction accomplished for the first time today. I limp my exhausted self into the nearest pub, belly up to the bar, letting a whiskey and ginger ale request effortlessly roll off my tongue.
I knock back a couple whiskey drinks to ease my tender wounds and tensed nerves. By the time my second glass is empty, my boyfriend plops onto the bar stool next to me, telling grandiose tales of each mountain he conquered. I listen and summon the waitress to order him a whiskey on the rocks to celebrate before we head out for some much-needed hot tub therapy.
It’s dark by the time we drive back to Frisco, but I still stare out the window to capture the rare glimpses of the mountains that shine through the headlights. We sit in peaceful silence, as my boyfriend flips on our favorite XM Radio bluegrass station.
Six months ago, I never would have imagined I would be right here right now. I rub my bruised knees, lean back in the passenger seat, and bob my head to the banjo beats. It’s crazy to know you’re right where you’re meant to be. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be right where you’re supposed to be.