When my dad mentioned I would have the opportunity to ski for the first time during Christmas vacation, I froze. My heart sped up instantly, my nervousness surely visible on my face. Being someone who is not always comfortable starting new things, I of course doubted myself. I worry about how I look to others, and a teenager falling all over the ski slopes was not how I wanted to look. As I put on layer after layer of ski attire, and my ability to move became less and less, I wished I had been skiing before. When you are younger you are fearless, rarely discouraged, and don’t have far to fall. I was around people who had skied much longer than I had lived, I thought to myself as I sat quietly intimidated.
I was in Wintergreen, a resort about an hour away from Charlottesville in Virginia. I was surprised by how beautiful the mountainous view was as we drove up the winding road lined with snow. The mountains stretched for miles, my slightly poor eyesight causing their details to become blurrier as they reached the horizon. As the temperature dropped, so did my stomach.
After the tiresome process of adjusting and strapping on my ski boots, I stuffed hand warmers into my gloves for warmth. I pulled my goggles over my eyes as I prepared myself for the gust of cold air at the exit door. I waddled over to the pole rentals, all with differing lengths and colors. I picked up the smallest length, knowing it would be the right size for my short body.
The bunny slopes were closed, and the private lessons were booked for another two hours, so until I could be properly taught how to ski, I had to just wing it. As my dad’s girlfriend Amy told me some of the basics, I slowly locked my skis to my boots. I tried to listen to as much as I could, but her voice was competing with the blasting snow machines all around us. I started to panic. How am I supposed to just start going down the hill? How protective will this helmet actually be?
After Amy told me as much as she could without demonstrating, she motioned for me to follow her as she set off down the slope with ease. Not wanting to lose her among the crowds of people, I had to push off and just go. I leaned forward, holding my shins to the front of my boots as I was told, and hoped to not embarrass myself too badly. I tried to keep my eyes in front of me as I kept my skis parallel, only slightly moving back and forth with the curves of the slope. I began to relax; maybe this is easier than I thought! I saw Amy ahead of me slow to a stop as she turned to wait for me.
I started to pick up speed as the slope inclined more and more. Amy grew closer to me, and it quickly dawned on me that I had no way of stopping or even slowing myself down. My nervous panicked feeling returned when I raced by her, and I knew I only had one way of stopping myself. I leaned back and fell, wiping out and tumbling around as people continued to whiz by. I finally stopped after I flipped into a fence weighed down with icicles, which shattered as soon as I collided. I received a few “Are you okays’?” from the people who saw me.
I was off to the side, but people still had to ski around me to avoid an accident. I had no time to be embarrassed as I struggled to get up. I realized both of my skis had popped off my feet, and were scattered along the path a little ways up the slope. I walked unevenly and very ungracefully as I tried to go back up the slope, weaving and avoiding the people who continued to pass by. There was a snow machine nearby, adding the generated snow to the natural layers that already existed. As it shot into the air above me, the icy pellets came down and continually shot me in the face, what felt like tiny stabs on my red cheeks. After I finally retrieved my skis, and struggled to drag them without dropping my poles, I reached a place off to the side. I fell in a heap in the snow, still feeling cumbersome in all of my outerwear.
Now that I had somewhat recovered from my crash, the feelings I pushed out of my mind when I first slid into the fence creeped back. I kept my head down and frustratingly dug my fingers into the cold snow, packing the powder into balls before smashing it back into the snow. I looked up at the family of skiers all identifiable with their matching camouflage ski pants and jacket, looking at ease; their laughter reaching my ears before it was ripped away by the wind. I just wished I could have that feeling. Amy skied up to where I had plopped myself down, and told me not to give up. “If you’re not falling, it means you’re not trying hard enough.” She continued to teach me more, telling me how to make my skies into a wedge and turn parallel to the mountain to slow down. I was anxious to start skiing again, and part of me just wanted to quit trying and trudge back inside for a hot chocolate. But I got up and made my way to the ski lift to take us back up the mountain.
As I slowly skid to the edge of the mountain, I nervously adjusted my gloves and pressed my hand warmers into my palms, the cold starting to seep through to my hands. I made sure my boots were still tightly fastened and took a deep breath. I leaned forward once more hoping my next attempt would be better than the first. I started out slowly, keeping my skis wedged. Amy tried to stay close in front of me, guiding me through the turns of the slope. I turned my knees back and forth, straightening and bending my legs. I started out a little uneasy, but tried my hardest to keep from picking up the speed that left me out of control. While trying my best to make a ‘S’ shape down the mountain, I did fall side sideways more than a few times, but they were all not nearly as bad as my first fall.
After multiple instances of ending up on the snow, skis sprawled, I groaned as I got up. My cold muscles were starting to ache from the bruises that I knew were appearing underneath my ski pants. Then as I began to move down the mountain and lean into the curves once again, I didn’t fall. Something must have clicked, and all of a sudden I was able to keep myself on my skis. My muscles relaxed as I settled into the pattern of moving back and forth. I could feel my confidence build, and for the first time began to understand why people loved this sport so much. I began to let go and not care about messing up or looking stupid. I realized I didn’t need to be embarrassed, and that once I let that go of all the feelings that caused my bad experience I could enjoy it so much more. The end of my skiing trip was a moment where I saw that I worried too much, not only about skiing, but about other places in my life where it was easy to add stress. I was able to see that by letting go of those feelings, I could always have more fun.
For this paper I wanted to focus on ways to give details about myself without blatantly stating them. I tried to weave in certain details throughout the paper I have so far, and I was proud of myself for thinking of more creative ways to show how nervous I was, or different parts of my personality. I think one thing I need to work towards for revising and finishing my paper is little details of where I was or how things felt from my point of view to make the reader feel like they are really there in the moment.
In terms of who I envisioned my reader to be, I never really had a clear idea in my mind. I feel like for more creative pieces I always start out as just writing for myself, and writing what I would want to be reading if I was sitting at home with a good book, but as I finish my paper and make the last finishing touches I think it becomes more about the reader being both my teacher and the other people in my class.
I tried to show my feelings for how nervous I was feeling, and I hope that I expressed it well enough. Sometimes when I am writing I already know what I am trying to say and so I might skip over important things that I already have in my mind. I sometimes forget that my reader has no access to what I am thinking, and only what I provide on paper.
I ended my paper with how my experience influenced me other than in that one moment. I tried to do what we learned in 7th grade about starting broad and getting specific to going broad again, or stating more of the big picture. I enjoyed being able to use some fiction in my story, and it was helpful for making the story less drawn out by not including every detail, and making my point about ‘letting go’ more apparent. I enjoyed this creative essay more than the other essays we have had to write this year.