I Want to Start Skiing With Other People

Can a budding romance survive when skiing together simply isn’t an option?
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Hey you,

I’m writing because I’ve grown concerned about the health of our mountain-town relationship.

When we met last summer, everything seemed too good to be true. I was a river guide; you were a yoga instructor, wildlife-safari driver, dishwasher and landscaper.

After work, we’d ride mountain bikes, go hiking, paddle the river and drink kombucha at the natural food store. You had housing. I had four-wheel drive. We were a perfect match.

But sadly, those were the good times, before you learned the truth about me—that I don’t ski.

At first, the summer heat pushed away all thoughts of winter, but as the leaves changed color and the days grew colder and darker, so too did the long-term forecast for our relationship.

Every time you mentioned skiing, I averted eye contact and changed the subject. I didn’t want to mention that skiing wasn’t my thing, because I know how important snow-covered mountains are to you. I was crushed by the weight of my dishonesty. I’m sorry.

Remember the time you asked to see my gear closet? I figured the game was up, but instead, you were too distracted by the excessive amount of climbing gear to notice that I don't own a single pair of skis. So I said nothing.

When you wondered aloud why I didn’t have a ski rack mounted to my car, I knew I was busted. But you must have been satisfied by the look of my snow tires, because you didn’t push the subject, and the lie lived another day.  

But when you finally invited me to the town ski swap to browse the powder skis, I didn’t know what to say, so we had The Talk. “I can’t ski …” I whispered, ashamed. Shock quickly spread across your face.

“I can’t ski …” I whispered, ashamed. Shock quickly spread across your face.

As the news sank in, I could tell you felt confused—even betrayed. How could I have not told you sooner? The warning signs had been there.

You took space from the relationship (to go to a music festival), and as the disappointment settled, you realized that what we had built might be worth salvaging.

After all, we’ve been through a lot—plus, we have a van together—so you wanted to make it work (and change me).

You said you'd support me through this—that we were in it together—so once the local ski resort opened, we started attending couple’s ski school together.

I showed promise early on, but after spending days coaching me down the green terrain with a leash attached to my waist, I could tell you weren’t fulfilled. Maybe it was the glint in your eye when you caught sight of the upper mountain and people skiing down covered in powder. It was obvious you weren’t happy.   

Forget pillaging fresh turns, I can’t make it down a groomer without exploding into a full-on yard sale—skis, poles, even goggles—launching in every direction. And guess who’s left to pick up the pieces? You are, and it’s not fair for either of us.

So, I need to tell you something: I want to start skiing with other people.

I want to ski with other people because I can’t keep up, and whenever I try, you want to ditch me to be in the company of other, faster people. It hurts.

I want to ski with other people because I deserve to be left in peace when I want to carry my skis upside-down (yes, I know how to carry them properly now, but that doesn’t mean I always will). And you deserve to don that bulky backpack and hike out to who-knows-where for, what do you call it? Face shots?

I want to ski with other people because I love the part of you that is wild, passionate and free—the same part that hucks cliffs and disappears from sunrise to sunset on a powder day.

We can still meet up for après. And we can (maybe) ride the gondola if our paths cross at the base area (unlikely). But instead of making false promises we’re probably not going to keep, for the health of our relationship, how about we just agree: We’re not skiing together anymore.

To be clear, this isn’t a breakup letter—far from it. This is the letter I’m sending so there won’t be a breakup letter.  

Here’s the new plan: I’ll be joyfully ripping low-angle corduroy while you’re hiking for hero turns in the sidecountry, because we both deserve to do what makes us happy. See you at 4 for nachos?

Love always (even if it’s a powder day),

Sam

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