I went skiing yesterday, up to Tahoe with some folks from my ward. Not all the details of the day are pleasant--waking up at 5 am after a 1.30 am bedtime, carrying my boots and skis up the hill to the institute building, trying to find a comfortable way to sleep in the middle of the backseat of the car during the three-hour drive, waiting in an ages-long rental line just for poles--but this time the suffering:pleasure ratio of skiing worked in my favor; once I got on the mountain, all that suffering was forgotten. I think I'd count yesterday as one of my top 5 favorite skiing days of all time, also including in that count (a) a late-March day at Sundance that was so warm I skiied in a T-shirt and track pants and lay down in the snow to cool off, (b) July 2 (!) at Snowbird, (c) a lovely memory-blend of all the days I've spent at Alta, and (d) the snowy day in Austria when my mom and I drank hot chocolate and read novels in the lodge all afternoon instead of skiing. Come to think of it, seeing as how the day at Sundance ended with a trip to the emergency room for my friend, who cut his hand on the edges of his skis, the day at Snowbird ended with my eyes so badly sunburned that they swelled shut, causing me to miss the Fourth of July fireworks to lie in a darkened room with a cool washcloth on my eyes, the "day" at Alta doesn't, properly speaking, exist, and the day in Austria also involved such low visibility that we spent the entire morning skiing without ever finding the other lift, a mere twenty yards away, yesterday might be one of the few unblemished, absolutely-blissful-in-every-way ski days to live in my memory.
Which means, of course, that it won't live in my memory at all as a discrete day, but as a happy glow surrounding the idea of skiing, the sort of contented feeling that keeps me shelling out a month's worth of grocery money for a day on the slopes. It was perfect not for anything major but for everything minor working together: it was sunny and warm, only about 30 degrees, and the resort offered long, not-too-hard and not-too-easy black diamond runs, quick-moving lift lines, and incredible views of Lake Tahoe. I skiied by myself in the morning, listening to music down the slopes and reading up the lift, at least when I wasn't randomly sitting next to Indonesians, and then with my friends in the afternoon.
My memories of the day will fade as quickly as the mild soreness in, strangely, my shoulders, but, as is usual with skiing, I won't forget the concentrated joys of speeding down a slope, nor the excited peace of standing at the top of a mountain looking up at the blue sky, around at the vistas, and down at the run. Getting off a lift yesterday, I was struck by how relaxed I felt: thoughts of all my upcoming midterms and presentations and papers were far from my mind, which was taken up entirely by enjoyment of my surroundings. My dad always says that even the worst day skiing is better than the best day doing anything else, and though I don't agree I can feel why he says it. I know Mormons don't believe in a stagnant, all-pleasure-for-all-eternity sort of heaven, but sometimes I want to, if only so that I can look forward to many, many, many more days like yesterday. I suppose, instead, that I'll just have to keep skiing. Anyone free next weekend?