Friday, January 08, 2010

Sticking Out




Just a quick story.

A few years ago I couldn't stand kvetching about winter, forfeited a hundred bucks and bought myself cross-country skis (ebay). Got the boots new.

The following year, despite his protests that he wouldn't like it, that he's a downhill ski kinda guy, I did the same for FD, got him skis. He didn't love it, but no one does, not at first. It's not easy picking up a new sport at our age.

The original idea was to ski to work, clearly a pipe dream. We're a few years away from that, stamina-wise, skill-wise. But when the snow started yesterday, the thought of cleaning off the car, the dread of losing my parking space, the memory of spinning rubber, all that negotiating with people who can't drive, and the pathetic hunt for a spot at work, all of it feels overwhelming.
"I'm taking my skis, catching a bus to work. At least I can ski home, or try to ski home. When it's too much for me, I can flag a bus anywhere."
This is Chicago.

FD comes up with a better idea. He'll park the car on Granville, half-way between my office and our house, meet me somewhere in the park by the Chicago River. This is a big park, but because Chicago is flat, you can still see everyone within 500 yards. We'll meet somewhere in the middle, ski back to the car.

And we do this, and it's fabulous. If you ever want to be alone in the city, this is the way to do it. Get out your skis in the evening and live a little. Nobody's out doing this, not at night.

Fast forward. This morning, new snow. This time I ski to the bus stop, one that's about a mile from my house. There won't be time after work to play around. I miss the bus by that much, keep going until one is approaching from the opposite direction, measure out time in my mind, get to the next bus stop, take off my skis, and wait.

The bus comes, I hop on. People surely give me the look that says,
you are one eccentric weird person carrying skis and poles on a bus.
The bus driver isn't appearing appreciative, either. He scowls.

As I settle into my seat, however, a young woman across the aisle strikes up a conversation.

YG: You ski in the city? That's so cool.
TD: Well, I walk on skis, but yeah.
YG: Like, uh, why? And how? I mean, uh. . .
TD: No, not everyone shovels, and if you look around, there's snow everywhere!
YG: So it's good exercise, right?
TD: Uh, huh, and I have this very sedentary job, and so it's good to shake out the emboli.

Etc.

We talk until she gets off the bus, and I learn she's from out of town, has recently moved here from Michigan where everyone drives everywhere. Well, of course, Michigan.

I'm thinking, during this social encounter, I really don't want to be talking to her, I want to check messages and stuff, just breathe, but she's young and enthusiastic, and I'm flattered, you know, in a way.

She gets off before me and says, "It was so nice to meet you. Take care."

And I'm thinking, it was so nice, actually.

These kinds of things can't happen to you unless you carry skis.

therapydoc

30 comments:

Amy said...

I would be the one to whip out the snowshoes and do the same :)

One of my Chicago friends posted some city photos (he's Rogers Park area) to his Facebook account recently and it made me realize how much I miss living in Chicago.

Chicago, all dolled up in a pile of fresh snow, is really a fun place to be.

nashbabe said...

Love it!

So plucky, creative, wonderful.

Excellent...

SocialWrkr24/7 said...

Although I hate the snow, I will now keep my eyes out for the lady on skies in the city... and I'll totally know who it is! :)

TechnoBabe said...

I really like the sparkle behind "..we do this and it's fabulous". Good connection.

Cheryl said...

Have you read my posts about all the buttons on my purse? If only honor neurodiversity didn't keep falling off...

blognut said...

You're a genius!!!

Retriever said...

These things happen to you because you are therapydoc and sweet as pie....:) I love the image of the two of you out there skiing together.

I remember in college a spectacular blizzard when kids were skijumping off the library steps (so dangerous, nowadays the lawyers would have prevented it). I had a rabid socialist friend who came cross country skiing with me at midnight around campus and we pretended we were going to the relief of Stalingrad from the Nazis, ski troops....Ah, the frivolous pursuits of youth!

Kerro said...

What a lovely story - both the skiing and the bus encounter. Especially as I am currently sweltering in mid summer heat. Thank you for sharing it with us!

Shattered said...

So, I'm fascinated that you can say "I ski to work"! Or even ski part of the way there...

We are frozen here in Texas but with no real snow, skiing to work will never be a possibility. Enjoy yourself; you have a unique experience!

blogbehave said...

I love your chutzpah! I love how you found a creative exercise outlet and beat the cold weather blues -- all at once.

And yes, it's always a wonderful experience when we make a sincere connection with a stranger.

Wonderingsoul said...

Hi TD,

More than the fantastic creative coldness of the skiing, I love the warmth of connection with a stranger.

I read your last post too.
It's not my best subject but wanted to say that you wrote it well and it made me think.

Keep warm and keep upright..!

x

Wonderingsoul said...

Hi TD,

More than the fantastic creative coldness of the skiing, I love the warmth of connection with a stranger.

I read your last post too.
It's not my best subject but wanted to say that you wrote it well and it made me think.

Keep warm and keep upright..!

x

Patty said...

Sheer genius!

Becky said...

What a fun idea. Those kind of things do happen when you are walking with a guide dog too - it seems to be something that people strike up conversation with too.

Lisa Marie said...

This post put a smile on my face! I was in Chicago not too long ago and know the park you are speaking of... can't imagine it covered in snow but I'm sure it is a daunting task to get from one side to the other! You are right about the skis on a bus! I'm sure you were quite the sight! :)

Tuesday@11 said...

So glad you talked with the young lady on the bus instead of checking your messages. I was driving one day and watched high school kids get off the bus and they were all on their cell phones. I thought how sad to be so physically close to one another yet so far away.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
therapydoc said...

Thanks everyone.

porcini66 said...

I grew up being able to ski out my back door and go for miles and miles through the woods and meadows. The feeling of freedom and "oneness" can't be matched. Unless, perhaps, by the intimacy of sharing moments with another person. I miss my forests and mountains. But intimacy with other human beings can be achieved anywhere. Thanks for reminding me. :)

Syd said...

Sounds like a great idea. And wonderful exercise.

slim said...

So plucky, creative, wonderful.

Jew Wishes said...

Such a wonderful story!

SeaSpray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Deb said...

What a grand way to be alone is the city. I love your creativity.

SeaSpray said...

I apologize for putting up the off topic comment Therapy Doc. it was late and a weak moment.

therapydoc said...

Seaspray, no worries. The best thing is to just let yourself grieve, feel lousy, talk about it a lot to everyone and anyone who will listen. It's like losing a best friend, right?

Doc's Girl said...

See? We Michigan folks aren't so bad...;-)

Anonymous said...

I want not agree on it. I assume nice post. Especially the title-deed attracted me to be familiar with the whole story.

Mark said...

Funny! Who knows you might start a trend, you could be the tipping point.

therapydoc said...

Hoping to do that , actually!