I had the bad fortune of being fully dressed. That's what crossed my mind, anyway, as I slowly inched my way up the snowy mountain road toward the ski resort, trailing our guide car at a glacial pace. I was trying not to look out over the winter splendor all around me, seeing as how none of it had been spoiled by guardrails.
Had I stayed in my PJs and bare feet, I might still be in the warm, safe, kitchen-centered house we'd rented.
It was already 8 a.m. on the East Coast, yet this sleepy little town in Colorado hadn't even seen a smidgeon of the sun. Wide awake, I had filled myself with caffeine out of habit as I checked and rechecked my watch, anxiously awaiting the moment our hosts -- natural born Mountain Timers -- would rise and shine.
The kids had ski school reservations and a firm 8 a.m. sign-in time. On a holiday week, it would be packed.
Since I was ready and pacing, it only seemed right that I should be the parent who ferries the children to their destination, as well as transports the gear that wouldn't fit in the first carload.
I tried to be calm as I caught glimpses of the precarious edge, always a little too close to the white line.
And I tried not to think too far ahead. I still had down to look forward to. Maybe the sun would have a chance to clear the road.
Anyway, the worst feeling wasn't the fear of coming back down the mountain, it was having all of our children in this one car, and not making it to the top.
I could barely hear the cousins' chattering above the sound of my fear. Though I had turned down the radio so I could hear my own thoughts, which were just a mantra of sorts to stay calm.
"Deep breaths," Was the answer I gave to every question the children fired my way. "Will there be a terrain park?"
"Will they let us ski together?"
"Can we ski tomorrow if we want?"
“Hey! I thought you said I could snowboard!"
The air was thin here -- 10,000 feet above sea level. And it felt like I would never get enough of it.
Keep taking slow, deep breaths.
We make it to the summit. The parking lot, where I slip into a spot next to our lead car.
I hadn't wanted to come. Hadn't wanted to be responsible for ski fittings or waiting in lines. But now I didn't want to leave. Now I could handle, overanxious kids, and dropped gloves and forms in triplicate. I could handle anything as long as it meant I didn't have to face the other side of the mountain.
Eventually, though, there would be no one to wait with. The ski school day would begin, and the children would be whisked away. My husband would get his gear and be off to the lift with his brother-in-law.
For a moment, I considered chatting up strangers, seeing if I might wait with them.
But the air wasn't thin enough to keep me from coming back to my senses.
I would get down that mountain as slowly and surely as I had climbed it in the first place.
But I might just put on my pajamas the moment I get home.