Photography: Andrew Kaczor
Fun fact for those of you who know me from my original music, my cover career, and my intense enthusiasm for conversation about albums, artists, and sound in general. However, I was doing something before I was jamming at the piano.
I was skiing.
My parents allege that I first hit the slopes at the age of 3. This, of course, was on a small kid's practice hill, what they called a "bunny hill." I don't know if it was the usual snowy Ohio winters or my low center of gravity (I'm 4'10" as an adult), but I took a shine to traditional skiing, then racing, then a bit of stunt work with trick skis. Every time I arrived at the local ski resort, I remember feeling incredible pride when I would fill out the skier ability level sheet to get the proper resistance set up for my body's ability: Level III. Check.
I placed in a few of the local ski races in my preteen years, and went on to tackle double black diamonds in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont into my teenage years. I wanted to tackle Colorado next. I loved the thrill of the speed, conquering moguls, and beating other people to the bottom, only to take the lift back up and do it all again. I didn't mind the cold; the warmth of the ski lodge was all the more satisfying after a couple of hours on the slopes. Hot pretzels and hot chocolate were fitting rewards.
I was always a daredevil kid. A few medical emergency highlights include a sprained ankle from soccer practice, trying to tough out what might have been Meningitis, and a snake bite (yes, I engaged with the snake). Also, the following.
My cousin Andrew got me interested in trying stunts. He's a phenomenal snowboarder, and even with my experience, I pale in comparison when it comes to baseplates meeting powder. He is also an incredible photographer with a keen eye for motion and color, and found a niche in photographing snowboarders (as well as being the subject of some shots for magazines, if my memory serves me correctly). He even moved out West for awhile to chase his passion in both areas. Yes, that's his photography work above. (Not of me...sheesh!)
One day I was tackling a jump I'd done countless times. Correct me if I'm wrong, mom and dad, but in my memory, the peak of the jump was taller than me, so upwards of 6 feet. Normally, my skis whizzed along, my poles nestled securely under my armpits, and my goggles whisked the snow from my vision: I was lazer-locked in. On this particular day, I wanted to try a 180, landing backward and spinning back out to garner more speed forward. I had also done this before, however, on this particular day, my ski caught wrong somewhere somehow and the next thing I knew, my brain was pulling back black curtains from my eyes and red-coated staff was getting ready to strap me in a gurney to take me down to Medical. The rest of the day was a bit fuzzy.
Ever since then I've been a bit hesitant to try challenging physical endeavors. I even avoided getting a bike for many years, and once I had one, the first few rides were terrifying. It's like my mortality was slapped back into my head.
Today, John and I went ice skating. I haven't done that in awhile...not for any given reason, but maybe because I used to be so busy gigging, If I had to guess. Maggie Daley park was beautiful, the sun was shining and we had nearly 40-degree weather. I was so excited for this excursion, this change of pace, and I didn't think anything of it. We got our skates after checking in and laced up. "It's just like skiing," I told John, remembering the sweaty lodge smell and the struggle of snapping in my own ski boots as a kid.
As I stepped onto the ice, I faltered. A fluke, I noted. But then I pushed off and faltered again, and felt the embarrassment rise, flushing my mask-concealed cheeks (thank goodness). After a few more shaky steps I had to ask John to hold my hand. I hate asking for help.
So here's the thing: is it a matter of practice? I was a born snowbunny. If I had to ask my childhood self if she'd ever be scared of ice skating, she would have laughed in my face. Yet, here I was, fumbling along, executing my worst nightmare: relying on (ugh!) a man for help! Luckily John is my favorite dude, and he was the sweetest about it, as he always is. We made it through about 90 minutes of laps before our time slot had expired and we headed home.
Now I'm having a whiskey cocktail and wondering just how sore I'll get. I wonder where my confidence went, and what spaces it left unoccupied for the fear to settled in. In any case, I'm glad I did it. The fire in our condo is roaring and I have the night off. Life is good, and I'll try again next season. Maybe I'll hit the slopes again, too.
Until tomorrow, stay well, stay safe, and stay kind.