There was one time. Back in January or February of last year Holly and I went skiing at Bogus Basin. It was mid-week; she didn't have the kids that day, and I called in sick. Holly thought it best to go during the week so we could avoid crowds. Skiing was her idea: “We can at least be a couple that does things,” she had said, and I agreed to go.
We reached Bogus Basin in the morning, Holly driving my truck, her small hands on the steering wheel as we climbed the mountain. After checking out equipment, I spent most of the day covered in snow searching for a lost ski. I couldn't stay upright. Each time I stood I'd gather too much speed; when I tried to stop I'd fall, sometimes painfully. Holly'd wait for me. She wore a white pair of ear muffs over her long, brown hair. “I think you're worse at skiing than Nicky,” she said, referring to her three year-old.
By lunch I was exhausted. My thighs and calves were burning, and my lungs were sore from the thin air. We ate burgers and fries in front of a big window that overlooked the mountain; my nose and chin were red, but the food was filling and the coffee was warm in my hands. Above the kitchen hung a sign that said Bogus Basin used oil instead of animal fat, and Holly pointed to the sign. “See, you're even eating healthier today.”
We were silent for most of the meal, and I waited for the other shoe to drop, but when it did (“If I move you really won't come with me?”), I managed to shake it off and change the subject. When we left the lodge, walking unevenly in our ski boots, the sky had gone gray, and the wind had picked up. The top of the mountain was in a white mist. I wanted to leave but Holly insisted on going for one more run.
We climbed the chair lift. As we approached the crest of one of the slopes the chair ahead of us disappeared, and soon we couldn't see anything besides ourselves and the chair and the cable above us. The wind was cold and kept knocking my skis together. Holly yelled something. When we reached the top of the mountain we stayed together for a while, but I fell and Holly was gone. I fell two more times. My right ski popped out and as I struggled to put it on, I wondered whether another skier would hit me. The wind picked up again. The flakes sputtered around me like mosquitoes, and my gloves were full of snow, and my glasses were caked with ice. I took my poles and cast off but when I became scared I turned sideways and dug the edges of my skis into the snow. I stopped. I did it again. Then another time. Soon I wasn't even frightened by how fast I was going because...well, what was the point? It was all white anyway. I continued down the mountain feeling each slope under me, and after one last dive, the ground leveled off and I began to coast and ahead, as if seen through a thick fog, was a large, dark blur that undulated with the wind and the snow. I closed the gap, and as I did, the lines deepened and hardened into a concrete building.
I stopped in front of Holly who was in her street shoes, holding her boots.
“Anyways...” I said.