You tell me to stay off my skis this winter, I might fall, I might damage the fragile surgery. My mistake is, I listen. For a while. But when I finally slip my foot into that ski boot, it’s like I’m slipping into a part of me. Putting on a finger, or zipping into a leg. As I drop between trees, dodge fallen logs and tree wells, bank off the top of snow-buried boulders... I feel that swoop and the rhythm settles me, reminds me who I am. I’m home. How could I have let you keep me from being myself? I know I won’t fall. I just bone-deep know.
When I climb up, up, and up that perfect slope, slowly zigging back and forth because its too steep to go straight up, it's like climbing the front steps to my home. Centering. But zagging up left perplexes me. It's too steep to lift my disabled arm high enough above me to plant a pole. So, I simply don’t. And, even though I'm more precarious because of it, in that act of quietly accepting, I finally love my arm. You’ve told me to treat it differently, like “other”. My mistake, with all due respect. Now I embrace it. I am whole. Imperfect, but me.
And when I rest at the top, then turn, peel off my climbing skins, and prepare for the descent… I feel a catch in my throat and a flutter in my heart when I look over the brink at the steepness. Instead of imagining the thrill of sweet turns, I flash-forward the agony of falling. My arm twisted and damaged. A loose bag of fear, I’m a sudden stranger at my own hearth. These mountains, these fir don’t even recognize me. I hate you then, for changing me.
My anger surges, like bile on this perfect day. Dark. Bottomless. Familiar. You really don’t fucking know me, and this anger that crouches like a pitbull against a tight leash, growling, spitting, snapping. Panting. It wants at you. Has been there forever, since the first time you told me: I’m not good enough to even try for that; I don’t have a right to my own body; I cannot inhabit the desires I feel; I can’t be independent, or solo, or confrontational…
I breathe. Blink away the darkness. Breathe. Feast on snow-laden mountains. Revel in the cool moisture of sweat on my back, melted snow on my gloves. I lick my lips.
And drop over the edge.
The wind whips my hair and the darkness can’t keep up. Memory, love, wholeness... all of it moves my perfect feet and perfect arms in laughing arcs, with perfect corn snow, and perfect sun, and that wild unchecked joy of living. Of pointing into life and eating it. Of being me.
You can’t know this. It’s mine. Me. My mistake, the permission I gave you.