Today I went skiing for the first time this winter. On what was actually the first day of summer. A late start, but it happened.
And the fact that it did is kind of a big deal for me. Here’s why…
Three months ago, I could barely climb up my stairs. My legs were so withered and weak from a year of Cancerful brutalization, that it was difficult for me to even just put shoes on, let alone walk or run or do anything to get my legs back to where they were a year ago. When I used to go two steps at a time.
I’ve worked through it and gotten my legs back a bit, but even now my feet and knees are so sore every day (from another mysterious Cancerful side effect) that I have a hard time walking down my stairs. It hurts. A lot.
But I’ve been doing it anyway. I mean, I have to walk down my stairs just to get outside. To do anything. And as you might know, I like doing things. Especially if they’re fun.
For example: I’d been really, really wanting to go skiing this year, before the season was over. Just one day. Just a couple of runs. If I didn’t, it would be my first year not in the snow in a loooooong time. I’ve had a solid ski streak going for probably 20 years. Even through the first few years of cancer. I skied all those years.
I just really like it. I enjoy the actual skiing parts of skiing, but what I really love is being outside, in the snow and the sun. On a mountain. Breathing that ultra crisp, thin air. And sometimes flying through it at 55 mph. It’s pretty great. Just doing that every once in awhile, as I have now for some three decades, kinda keeps me going in a way. Always has.
Maybe even more since I got sick.
Two years ago, even though I was all brain cancered-up and barely had any money, I went skiing one day, and it felt f’in great. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to buy myself a season pass for the next year.
I didn’t use that pass much, but I did use it. And even though I didn’t use it enough to make it technically financially worth it, I’m glad I bought it. Just having that thing in my wallet, wanting me and reminding me to use it, gave me little flashes of hope– little dreams of me out there on the mountain, living it up and breathing it in. That barely-used pass gave me something to look forward to. And actually, that in itself made it totally financially worth it.
Last year, I did something similar. I managed to go skiing once, and despite the fact that I was still poor and even more cancered up, I bought a pair of ski boots.
This was a big deal for me– it was the first pair of ski boots I’ve ever had that actually fit my weird, wide hobbit feet. (I realize now that an indication of how much I like skiing is how much pain I’ve put myself through to do it.)
So I got those boots that finally fit my feet. And I got to use them– once. And they were great. They didn’t hurt! (As much as normal, at least.)
I loved those boots. And I loved that I got them, despite all the reasons not to. They were a symbol of something. They were a promise to myself, of more fun to come.
But then, ski season ended. As it does. And then last summer came, and suddenly things started getting worse for me, health-wise. Suddenly it wasn’t just cancer, it was all this other bullshit as a result of the cancer that started pulling me down. It was bad. Things got so shitty, in fact, that I started to wonder when i’d be able to use those boots again. I wouldn’t let myself think “if” I’d be able to use them again. I knew I would. I promised myself I would.
And even if I wasn’t using them as the winter started (since I was mostly in a hospital bed) I liked imagining using them. And I was still glad I had bought them. Like the ski pass, they were a symbol of something. Of Hope.
That shit is powerful. It has kept me skiing through cancer. And even when I couldn’t, it has kept me dreaming that I would again. Hopefully.
Hope has gotten me through this. It got me to go ice climbing, for some reason. And in the form of a one-legged Canadian guy named Terry Fox, Hope actually got me to run 27 miles. In a row. In Newfoundland. In an effort to get myself to write a movie that could cure cancer.
Like I said: powerful shit, Hope. Without it, I wouldn’t have done any of that stuff. (I can barely believe I did any of that stuff, even with something as powerful as a mountain of hope.)
But after this last year, in which I experienced more of the bad side of being Cancerful than in the first three years combined, my hope was starting to dwindle.
In the very least, it was becoming a little less ambitious. I mean– ice climbing? Marathons? Cancer-curing movies? Who the hell thinks they can do that shit?? Not me! I was so sick and weak I was just hoping I could stand up and put my pants on.
But for some reason, I did keep hoping I’d get to use those ski boots again. Even when I could barely walk. And somehow, that didn’t seem stupid.
Turns out, it wasn’t. Turns out, I got better. (Well, a little better.)
Recently, I not only started walking and hiking again– I also started to think I might be able to ski again. Just one day. Please. Just let me have that. I really hoped I could do it. I damn well knew I could try.
But winter was over. It was well into spring now– most ski places had closed. But since who the hell knows if I’ll be around for the next season, I kept checking if any places were still open NOW. And it turns out one was– Mammoth Mountain. They had gotten enough snow over the winter that they were still open. In June.
That’s all I needed to know. I already had my skis, and my only-used-once brand new boots.
And so, on a day when it was 106 degrees at my home in LA, I just went skiing. In a t shirt. On the first day of summer.
I’m glad I hoped that I would.
Because I did.
And I’m so happy that I did.
Granted, I feel like my legs might fall off at the thigh when I’m sleeping tonight, but it was worth it.
Today, I confirmed Hope.
And thank hope for that.