Autumn Phillips: Out of hibernation

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It's 8 a.m. Mocha Molly's coffee shop.

I put my dollar in the jar and started pouring myself a cup of coffee. I was in my own world. My brain was ruminating on some pop-music cud that I'd picked up from the car radio on my way over. But I was shaken from my "Hit me baby one more time" daydream somewhere between the cream and the sugar.

I started hearing my name.

I turned around and saw smiling faces. They were the faces of people I recognized, people I used to know well.

I smiled back.

"I haven't seen you for a while," I said.

Or you. Or you. Or you. I was like a spinning top or a malfunctioning robot turning in every direction. Smiling and repeating, "I haven't seen you for a while."

What were they all doing here?

It was as if I had been transported by the Ghost of Christmas Past to a town where I used to live. All my old friends were there. And then I remembered:

I used to go to Mocha Molly's every morning before work. I would pour a cup of coffee and have a few short conversations before heading off to my position in the Borg.

I was social once. I had friends.

And then it started snowing.

Last November, I was talking to wise Mike Martin about the Mountain Film Festival. He called the event "the last time we can all get together before the season starts, and we don't see each other until spring."

Sure, Mike, I thought. This is our last chance to spend time together. Steamboat is a cardboard box, and we are a pile of puppies crawling all over each other. I have to schedule 20 extra minutes for every errand just for the inevitable socializing time.

But he was right. The ski mountain opened, and winter swallowed me whole.

Sometime in December, everything changes. You start hanging out with your small group of winter friends, which usually includes the people you work with, the people who ski or snowboard at your ability and the people who live within walking distance of your house. And all those other friends, the people you know when there are leaves on the trees, just disappear into their own individual snow pods.

Winter began. I opened the closet and pulled out my snow pants and my gloves. I replaced my broken goggles and asked for a new picture on my pass. (Actually, the woman behind the counter told me that I really should get a new picture on my pass.)

Since then, I've been skiing as if I'm on some kind of incentive program -- if I just get 10 more days on my pass, then I qualify for the knife set.

I've been pacing up and down that hill, every weekend and every time I have a free hour between 8:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.

And at night, when I'm inside my warm, cozy house, it takes a rocket's blast of motivation to get me outside again. I spend the days isolated from the world behind my goggles and my nights living what I will call "the Netflix lifestyle."

Last week, during Winter Carnival, I watched the fireworks, and I listened as they echoed against the falling rain. They seemed so loud to me this year, and I thought, "How loud would something have to be to wake the bears out of their hibernation?" (Yes, deep thoughts with Autumn Phillips.)

Instead, I think it was me who was woken out of hibernation this week. As a result, I've decided to have a "where have all my friends gone?" party sometime soon.

But not this weekend.

I want to get up early to ski.

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