Puffy Ski Suits, Spike Heels, Stretch Jeans & Hot Chocolate. Face Down on the Slopes With an Ugly Cry

I don’t wanna be a lightworker.  Mommy, mommy, life’s too hard… 

I remember this feeling. This feeling is me, face down in the snow on the green run of Grouse Mountain, on a high school ski trip. Circa 1986.

My family was booky, not sporty. So I had no idea that you should wear thick snow pants or at least something waterproof, if you’re going to spend the day falling flat on your face in ice and snow in subzero temperatures. Also it was my first time skiing, unless you count that time my parents took my sister and I on the bunny run, as wee kids, and I burned my hands on the rope tow. (No gloves. Not even kidding; I was that stupid. Or ignorant. Or my cotton gloves were too wet and cold so I took them off. Or whatever. I don’t remember. Who cares, I was only a kid for chrissakes.)

I’m lying. Not about the not-wanting-to-be-a-lightworker part, I mean about the high school ski trip wardrobe malfunction. Sure I knew you were supposed to have thick waterproofies. But the only ones we had in our suburban attic were probably ancient, like from That 70’s Show, and this was the 80’s and I was a (wannabe) “rocker,” so I probably wanted the rock-and-roll version of this:

FreshPrinceOOSC80sSkiSuit.oldschoolski.co.uk
Could I have made The Cut in this “Retro Bad Boy Onesie Ski Suit?” We’ll never know. Photo credit:  Fresh Prince OOSC

But we didn’t have anything like that lying around the house, and it didn’t make sense to buy something new for my first time skiing, so I wore stretch jeans. Not ribbed stretch jeans, thank goodness, since those would’ve soaked up the ice water (warmed by my repeatedly falling body) even more. (Cotton doesn’t say warm when wet, yo. Only wool does, as a natural fibre. Thank you, cool-and-sporty-people-I-later lived-with-in-Vancouver.) 

Anyway, ribbed stretch jeans had been out of fashion for at least a year by then. So these weren’t ribbed. They were — aw man, can’t even remember the brand. It wasn’t Levi’s, those quite honestly were for dweebs back then, in spite of what my euro-chic cousins visiting from Holland-I-mean-the-Netherlands thought, buying up all the stock. Heck I can’t even remember the name of the go-to jeans store, that me and my bestie P. used to frequent, to buy the latest, tightest model—acid wash, of course!—the minute they came in. (We each had $40 per month clothing allowance, courtesy of the Canadian government, which our kind and crazy parents deferred to us. We must have been really good whiners.)

These were the days of lying on the bed with coat hooks threaded through the zipper heads to pull up the fly. These were the days when I fit into a size 25 jean. (Well I was only 13 for heaven’s sakes, on my farm-girl frame it would’ve been just wrong if I was any older. And actually I probably should have had a 26. But I would get into those 25’s no matter what. Our waistlines were our identity back then.)

Anyway, back to the slopes. So would I wear something comfortable and ugly? No.

This is the girl who innocently clicked down the school halls in spike heels (hey, don’t shoot me, they were in back then! It’s pretty much all they sold at Mariposa, besides Keds-a-likes! And I was a [wannebe] rocker, remember?) thinking that would get her loved by all, not ridiculed and #MeToo’d. Little did she know it’s more often the beast than prince charming that comes after little girls in spike heels. (Ok maybe not so innocently. Maybe she had an inkling. But maybe she figured she could tame the beast. That every beast had a timid little boy-child inside, waiting to be loved and transformed into a charming prince. You know, like in Beauty and the Beast? And every Harlequin romance novel? Anyway.) 

Oh screw it I don’t know. It’s all so confusing. And I can’t believe where this has gone already. It was NOT supposed to be a #MeToo story. And it’s not going to be. It’s a ski story. Or something like that.

Well, I could not ski. Not even down the so-called green run. The teacher said it would take about 15 minutes to get down, and then we could take the gondola back up and do it all over again. I personally really liked the gondola. The view was stunning, I mean absolutely stunning (this is the Rockies we’re talking about) and there wasn’t much to do but look around at the view, besides trying to look good with chapped lips and red nose while you turned around to see if that cute boy with the feathered mullet was looking at you.

But 15 minutes to get down the slope? Nuh-uh. It took me nearly an hour, maybe more. I think it was an hour and a half or maybe even two. I was freezing. Literally freezing, like at that point before total hypothermic numbness, where the pain is searing, it feels like you’re being burned, that’s how cold it is. It was like crawling on ice with hands on fire. The fingers wouldn’t move, and no matter how tightly I’d stuff them under my arms to try to warm them, like my Granny had taught me at the Remembrance Day parades, nothing would quench the pain.

The worst, absolute worst thing was that once you were on that hill, all you could do was ski down. There was no other option except walking, sliding or rolling. Walking in huge plastic moon boots on solid ice (bad day for powder I guess) straight down a slope is not easy either, and takes umpteen times longer than skiing. When you are freezing you just really wanna get warm. That’s all you want, all you can think of. Let the pain and suffering end.

I was halfway down. It had taken many hard falls to get to this point. Most of the other skiers were zigzagging down easily, looking fab in their Fresh Prince-style padded gear. I’m sure they would have helped me if I’d asked, but I never knew how to ask for help. I never wanted to ask for help. I wanted to be the one in control, the one who was good at everything, the one who could handle anything. I didn’t want to be the victim. I didn’t want to be the rescued. Not while I was looking ugly at least. I didn’t want the bad press. So instead of asking for help, I finally just lay there, face down on the white slope, and cried. Full on snot-bubbling ugly cry. I-want-my-mommy cry. For real. I actually said that into the icy snow. I want my mommy I want my mommy.

Someone probably did help me then. I don’t know or remember. The pain and the shame and humiliation was just too great; it blocked everything else. I was that girl “they” would talk about for ages. The one who couldn’t do cool sporty things, who, on top of it, cared more about looks than common sense, the one with the mascara running and chapped lips and snotty nose and beet-coloured hands. And acid-wash stretch jeans.

Wow. I really did not mean to go on that long, about the ski bit. I was actually trying to tell a different story. I’m always going off track. I’m always doing things the hard way. Inching down the slope on my stretch-jean-covered butt, my face red and raw, instead of swooping in graceful zigzags with shades on, never breaking a sweat.

The point I was actually trying to make was that thing about the lightworking.

What was it again. This morning, lying in bed awake after only four hours of sleep, worrying and worrying and remembering the fall of 2016, I was praying to the CPU or GUG (Creative Powers of the Universe, or Great Universal Goodness) for help. And then I wrote one true sentence. “I don’t want to be a lightworker.”

“Lightworker,” meaning those unbelievably brave and crazy folks who slog around in mud pits (whether metaphorical or real) trying to drag people out when no one else will help, because no one else wants to get dirty or hurt. Whether literally or not. The people who bring our attention (thus light) to the sometimes awful stuff that is happening out there, that we’d never otherwise know or care about, and who maybe even show us how we can change it.

Yeah, no way, that is not for me. I really, really don’t want to be one of those brave and crazy people. I’m a huge wimp, I don’t like pain, and I sure as heck don’t like dirt. Let alone mud. Like are those people stupid or what? Or are they just doing it to look good, being all kind and stuff? Either way it’s not for me. I don’t wanna be a lightworker. No no no.

I will tell you why. To be a lightworker is not to stand on the snowy mountain top with a puffy suit on, sun glinting off your shades, never breaking a sweat. It’s really more like sliding down ice in stretch jeans and crying on your face. It’s just nasty. It’s uncomfortable and painful and it doesn’t make you look good neither, while it’s happening.

Yesterday I wrote a post that I loved, mostly perhaps because it incorporated music that I loved, that I’d written in a flash, thanks to the amazing help of the great CPU and one true sentence, and then I’d even taken the time to add links and formatting and all that other kind of so-called grunt work that bloggers have to do to put their art out into the world. It was a lot of work in the end, and I’d been ready to post it, but then in in the blogging back alleys, some other stretch-jean butt-slider had posted something about that damned midterm elections vote.

I have a terrible short-term memory, so I’d forgotten all about it. It hit me like a smack upside the head. I thought: “Oh crap. It’s today. It’s today it’s today it’s today. Today’s the day that the wonderful good people of the shining US of A could replace some of the congress people who’d shamed Dr. Blasey Ford for telling her truth, replace some of the congress people who think women shouldn’t get to choose what happens to their bodies, replace some of the congress people who think that men aren’t responsible for their own sperm, replace some of the congress people who were supporting the continued separation of asylum-seeking families at the border, replace some of the congress people who think people shouldn’t get to choose whom they love, replace some of the congress people who think black or brown or beige or blended lives don’t really matter as much as white/pink/whatever ones, and replace some of the congress people who think that just because you’re from the same religion you’re all cut from the same cloth, so to speak, and you’re all bad. Today is the day.”

So I didn’t post my fun little musical post, and instead scrambled around like a headless chicken trying to figure out what I could do to get those with the power to vote, to actually exercise it. I went on Facebook and I typed in “vote.” I was hoping to find something right away, something from the current feed from some semi-neutral-seeming game-changer that I could just “share.” The reason for semi-neutral-seeming is because if you post too far in either direction you risk alienating the folks you hope to reach. But nothing came up right away. Not even non-neutral. You’d think it would (or at least should) be at the top of every English-speaker’s feed. I was appalled (why I don’t know, ever the optimist I guess) to see that Facebook was failing once again. So was Instagram. So was everything. I finally wrote a crappy little post myself. But with a very clear title. You know how many views it got? 2 views. That’s it. My post about blogging got something like 200 views. That means not even my 20 followers all saw my “Go Vote” post in their feeds. Not even the half of them that are bots. Even the back alleys had failed, in this sense. Or maybe it’s ’cause I didn’t tag it right while I was making dinner for the kids. I dunno.

Why is it that “Go VOTE NOW” is not splashed over the front pages of every online magazine on the voting days? Take Medium, for example. We’re most of us creators on there. Most of my blasted friggin’ feed is political during the week, even though the last thing I want to be is a “political person.” If a publication chooses to feed me political gloom and doom Monday to Sunday (yes, even when I don’t click on it, so it’s not just the algorithms), but then doesn’t want me to do anything to change it on the actual day it could all be changed, what does that mean? Who’s running this show? And if the people who are running it are on the “light side,” then why the heck aren’t they using their power when it’s most needed?

I’ll tell you why. I know why. It’s partly because they’re busy cooking dinner or online shoe shopping or whatever else needs/wants doing at home. And partly because there is some sh*t happening in the world today that people don’t want to talk about. Because they’re smart. Because they’re smart and scared and they don’t want to get thrown on that icy ski hill in stretch jeans with no hot chocolate stand in sight. They’re hoping that they can continue cruising in the sun, cosy and warm, perhaps sipping mulled wine on the deck of the lodge later, while watching the sunset. I don’t blame them. That’s what I want, too.

The problem is this. I’m actually not even sure how to say it. I’m one who tends to mix metaphors and jump around too much. I don’t know if you can follow my meanderings, because this is just one wee little ant on the hill doing her thing. I am not cut out for politics. I hate politics. I can’t even watch the news for chrissakes, because it hurts so bad. But basically I can’t stand to see people doing something like writhing on ice, when I can imagine what it might feel like. It makes me hurt inside and I want that pain to stop. For them but also for me. And the worst thing is many of the persons out there writhing on the slopes didn’t even decide to wear stretch jeans on a mountain of ice. He or she might never have had a choice, because that’s all some other people threw into the charity bins when stretch jeans went out of style. I don’t know what I’m saying. I guess all I want to know is, if we don’t help people in need of helping, who will?

I was lucky at the end of my ski trip. All I had to do was sit shamefacedly in wet jeans on a long bus ride home with a bunch of kids who though I was uncool. Later I went home to my mommy and daddy, loved and warm and dry. Hot chocolate and all that.

But what if there had been no bus for me? What if I was not allowed on the bus because my clothes weren’t stylish, or because my face was ugly from snot and tears, or because I looked different from the other kids? And what if, even worse, I had no home to take the bus to, anyway?

I can imagine it. I can imagine it all. It hurts so bad I can’t stand it. And I just want to make that pain go away. Screw the friggin’ ski mountain; I want nothing to do with that actually. Never liked the cold, never. I’m a beach girl myself. Mohito sunsets, dance parties in the sand, that kind of thing. Besides I look wayyyyy better with a tan. And I love the waves. Surfing. Now there’s a sport I can imagine doing. Riding the waves, never going deep. Going with the flow.

But there really is no such thing as a free ride. That much I have learned in life. For that moment of joy, standing on the board, the surfer has to fall a lot and swim like mad, and sometimes even get caught in the undertow. Going deep.

Aw man, I’m doing it again. Mixed metaphors. Sucks. But there’s something else I wanted to say. I’ve been at the other end too. The end where I’m sitting on my laurels, or on my beach lounge, rather; it looks like I’ve got it all, because I’ve ticked all the boxes. But when you’re there, it really sucks if you don’t have a ton of people to share it with. I don’t know how to explain it. It just feels bad. It feels squirmy and uncomfortable and it’s just really not enjoyable at all. And besides, everyone suddenly hates your guts. Or at least, the people you like the most, anyway.

And there’s another thing too, for those of you who can’t quite relate in any other way. It’s the question of who’s going to run the g*ddamned gondola, and make the puffy warm ski clothes, and serve the hot chocolate and mulled wine. Who’s doing it now? Who’s going to do it tomorrow? If it’s really, truly going to be you, who’s going to be your boss? How are they going to treat you? That is, if there still will be ski clothes and lodges and gondolas? Trust me, the people who can  throw other people out on those slopes with nothing are not your friends, no matter what they say they’ll do for you to keep you safe and warm. Bullies don’t truly have friends. They have minions. And minions are a dime a dozen. The minute you’re not useful, you’re out on the icy slopes. Heck there are machines these days anyway, replacing minions everywhere. Soon we won’t need anyone serving anything. We’ll all just be batteries. Aw sh*t I’m going down. Sucked in the undertow. Red pills. Can’t stand ‘em. Don’t want ‘em. Want the blue pills. Specially the ones that get you raving on the beach. Yeah. Those are good. Those are my favourite.

But no they’re not. ‘Cause the effects wear off and then all you see is garbage everywhere, in the cold aftermath of day. Someone’s gotta clean up. If it’s not you, who will it be? It’s gotta be me. But I’m just one person. I can’t tackle it all. I’ve got kids to look after. I’ve got a life to live. Or do I? Will I have? And what kind of life will that be, exactly?

Over to you, friends. I don’t have the answers. I don’t wanna be a lightworker. I just want my mommy. And hot chocolate. And cute shoes.

.

Skiing down the green run:

***

Visit the previous post for links to some true lightworkers which inspired this piece.

 

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