In 1982, when I went to China — south China, on the Tropic of Cancer — I took two pair of skis with me. My ex brought his, too. Yes. We were going to ski Tibet. We hauled those skis through the airport in San Francisco, through the airport in Hong Kong, to the airport in Guangzhou, around Guangzhou (Canton), finding a taxi that could carry them to our university north of the city. They sat in our “spare” room for a year. We assiduously kept the wax lingering on the bottom of them from molding during the ENDLESS rains of winter and the soul-sucking heat of the rest of the year.
At year’s end, we hauled them back to the airport in Guangzhou and onto the plane (an Aeroflot) to Shanghai, to the hotel where we were staying and then to the airport from which we returned to America. At that point we also had a large Chinese carpet along with the two footlockers we’d taken in the first place. The airline officials said it didn’t matter what our stuff weighed or how big it was, but we each could have only ONE piece. We found the BIGGEST string bags made in the world and piled all our stuff — skis and all — into these giant string bags that were graciously accepted as baggage.
And so the skis flew back to America with us to be lugged through the San Francisco airport once more, to my ex’s ex’s house and then back to the airport, and from there to Billings, MT (they almost forgot to load my carpet, though, grrr. I stood up and yelled when I saw the baggage cart driving off with my carpet on the top…) From Billings they returned to Denver where they saw a lot of action in the worst winter in decades. Roads closed and they were the best way to get around. Ultimately, they went to San Diego where they saw some good snow but were, finally, given to the Goodwill.
This morning I went on eBay to find skis. I found great skis and good Italian leather boots, barely used, and bindings at an awesome price. Now all I need are poles.
I now think of those perambulating skis as a metaphor for youthful dreams. No one knows when they set out for the ski trip in Tibet how far it is or how convoluted and downright impossible the journey.
My new skis are going to be great for what I will be able to do which is not much as Bear must be leashed and I’m an arthritic old lady. My senior citizen dreams are really pretty much the same as my youthful dreams, though I have a better sense of my own size and scale. I am looking forward to skiing on the local golf course, 1/2 block away. No, they’re not the back-country skis of my youth, but I think they’ll be all I need.
Actually, I can’t wait!!!!