Sun Peaks was the most wonderful relaxing weekend. Saturday morning it snowed as we went up the lift the first time, gorgeous big flakes that gave the hill a 2cm carpet of soft fast snow. Up at the top, visibility was poor but the clouds socked in the heat as well and we wore few layers and felt no chill. In the lower reaches of the hill the terrain was clearly visible and I could snowboard with a confidence rare for me. It is effortless without the fear; gentle turns curving with the mounds of the mountain, travelling down 600m in one long stroke. By midday, the sun had broken the clouds and I soared down uninhibited.
We stopped early in the afternoon, mindful of the aches in our bodies and the two day passes. While we have been together for the past months almost every night, it is rare that we were alone, so the evening was a treat. The bar at the base is the same as every bar at the base of every hill, full of sweaty bodies and over-eager, over-moneyed people. We stayed only briefly, sampling scotch and watching hockey highlights on the TV. He keeps me warm at nights, and as I snuggled into his back, I was happy.
Sunday morning was bright and cold, with a chill that laced through my boots into my toes and snuck in between my fingers. The stiffness of the last day took several runs to work out before I again felt comfortable. Another day of strong runs that I would not have been capable of the year before. Another day of not wanting to quit, of sneaking in one last run, one last smooth curve. Most important, another day of feeling I belong on my board, that it will respond to me.
This weekend was not the same as my earlier opinions of the sport. I learned to snowboard caught between two voices three years ago. Before C and his patience, before I had as strong a sense of self. I would cry on the hill, cry for the pressure I was under then, and the more relentless pressure I was under at home. The next year I walked away from all of that, the hardest thing I ever have done. I took my snowboard with me though, not willing to believe that it had been solely responsible for all the on-hill tears cried. Then in my year alone, I went up to Cypress mountain once, and found that the tears were less forthcoming, perhaps didn’t need to come at all. Last winter was my first winter with C, and the first I’d really enjoyed being on my board, being alone on the hill practising slowly without the pressure of performing for a partner. We’d meet for coffee, drinks, and then I’d go out again by myself to make the slow scared turns – afraid of falling, afraid of how it had been. Then this year, perhaps the security of my wonderful life, perhaps just the muscle memory of a thousand turns in the past, the fear disappeared. Yesterday I soared down the hill, still slower than most, but without hesitation, without stops, without a thought of the past. I found that I could snowboard. Best of all, I could snowboard with C. My ability to get down the mountain would not affect his view of me, and with that liberation I had put the last ghosts to rest, and I could carve.