Amazing but true, I managed to survive my 40th year and today entered into my 41st – another telltale tree ring.
It was spent primarily recuperating from yesterday, which seemingly lasted years, 22 hours (awake) to be exact. I rose at the butt crack of dawn to join my pal, Carley, for a day of skiing – my first such outing in Colorado. Though she was having lower back pains, she decided we should still charge on up the mountain to Breckenridge.
Apparently, we hit some 'traffic' though knowing the LA quagmire for 31 years, this definition seems quaint. Carley was frustrated with our late start but I was too busy being impressed that I live so close to a variety of ski resorts. I am used to the four to six hour drive to Tahoe so getting there in two hours seems incredibly luxurious. My Rocky Mountain proximity is still dawning on me as I feel my inner ski bunny slowly take shape.
It had been several years since I'd last skied and I was just banking on ingrained body memory. I stuck to the green square trails just to get reacquainted and wouldn't you know … it is just like riding a bicycle. Sometimes, clichés do come true! Mind you, I'm no Suzy Chapstick but the basics – stopping, turning, avoiding trees – all came rushing back. What a relief!
Now that I am an old woman, I can tell you that much has changed in my expansive lifetime. When I began skiing at age 14, a lift ticket cost $18. This amount now covers your noontime bowl of chili and a cold beer, that's about it.
In hindsight, there were early signs of snowboarding clearly evident in empty swimming pools across America – although skateboarders of yore were not nearly as fashion-centric. While noting many hyper-cool boarder outfits, I couldn't help recall watching my handsome brother ski one bright sunny SoCal winter day in faded 501s, sunglasses, nylon gators and no shirt. I think it was during the 80s. In my book, this image remains the pinnacle of winter sport organic hipness.
The biggest change of all: the omnipresent cell phone. For safety reasons, this is a huge improvement but I've heard of people being knocked over by swinging chair lifts as they chatted away. One of the Breck operators told me they lecture folks all day long, "Pay attention!" to no avail. Still, I have to admit, I'm impressed everyone is getting a signal.
Later that evening in Denver, I was surprised by a birthday gesture from a friend. The lovely Miss Bliss from Ol' Miss had an informal gathering at her place. I'd arrived in a wild outfit, as instructed, and she set about accessorizing me until I looked appropriately pimped up for the evening. "Girl, you look Super Fly!" she assured me. A group of us went outside to smoke a cigarette and were treated to live opera coming out the window of a higher floor. "Oh yeah, that guy is a professional opera singer or some shit like that," she explained. I really enjoyed it. Arias and nicotine, it turns out, go together nicely.
Back inside, champagne was popped, 'party favors' consumed and gifts were bestowed. Bliss gave me the most amazing painting she'd created just for the occasion. She is a superb artist and I was deeply touched. Every image in the brightly colored painting had a reason, as she explained, "See, this is your new life – the mountains. This is the ocean, the life you left behind in Cali. The lotus is me … " I was speechless. Again, I have to marvel at my phenomenal luck with friendships. It sure makes up for an awful of stuff that is missing.
What is so fortuitous about this gift is that my living room has a noticeable bare wall. The apartment is filled with trinkets from the past - treasures, photos and mementos from days gone by. I had intentionally reserved the most obvious blank space for evidence of my new life. I wanted something from Denver for the best spot, a piece that was all about the future and the promise of things to come.
When I unwrapped the canvas, I immediately knew, "This is it! This is what the blank wall has been waiting for!" I hung it up today and the bright colors enrich my little cave more than you can believe. The warm intentions behind it go nicely with my twinkling Xmas tree.
After a few more glasses of bubbly, a gang of us headed out into the night, off to a fancy nightclub with various rooms, DJs and wildly dressed partygoers. Throughout the evening, I was referred to as "the birthday girl" and they would not let me pay for anything. There was dancing, there was smoking, there was flirting and a few other things I cannot describe. Sometime around 4:00 a.m. I fell into bed – my own, thank god. My head was fuzzy but my heart was fuzzier.