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.
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.