A Note from The Blogger: The following, as you will find out, was not written by me. Although I find it to be an amazingly refreshing piece that I would love to claim as my own, there is no way that I could ever write something like this. It's not because I won't, it's physically because I can't. This feature is written by a new found friend, who is strikingly different from anyone on this site. I still hope you take the time to read this piece, and perhaps gain a new perspective. Enjoy!
Recently, on an infrequent internet excursion to newschoolers.com, I was pointed in the direction of a particularly interesting blog. The entry I read (found here: http://newschoolers.com/web/content/blogs/jid/552/eid/2843/) was written by my girlfriend’s roommate (and NSer extraordinaire) Jen – known to you people by her username pho[tog]rapher. If you’re too lazy to read the whole thing; here’s a brief, inaccurate summation: umm… something about skiing. It’s probably not worth a full read anyway, yours truly is only a footnote in the story anyway.
Regardless, I continue.
As I am writing this, I sit on a slightly-more-than-worn couch fresh in a pair of sweat shorts with the stench of seafood lingering from a long day’s work behind the counter. Without the ventilation of this screen-enclosed porch, I’d surely be grimacing at the smell of my own hand as it approaches my face to offer a glass of diet grape soda. Despite the profundity of my affliction, I crack my knuckles and proclaim this: I don’t know a fucking thing about skiing. If this was Xbox Live, I’d be a n00b cautiously gaming in fear of lurking pwnz0rs. If this were Rocket Power (such an underrated show), I’d be the Squid stepping my Nebraska-born ass out of my new California home and into Otto and Reggie’s neighborhood. Get my point?
I have been dating an NSer for a little while now (I prefer not to count days) and have been floored by the incalculable knowledge I’ve acquired about the freeskiing culture. A culture which, I found, doesn’t offer much – on the surface. I fell in love with Colleen (who I will henceforth refer to as “Babygurl”, as I do in real life) the same way people mistake shooting stars for airplanes: I had no idea what I was looking at.
I met her while we were both working at a sweet, homey little hell-hole known as Hannaford Supermarket. I had been working in the seafood department (thus the stench) for three years when Babygurl started in the food court. The two departments are situated about fifty feet apart, obstructed by the always-busy deli and its rather disgruntled workers. Still, I caught glimpses of the girl from the far end – she appeared remarkably… average. But in a world where the sunlight is manufactured by florescent 100-watts and the temperature is machine-controlled, she seemed natural. She had long brown hair with hay-like texture, deep lagoons for eyes, and a method of carrying herself I could only describe as “swagger”. She wore ratty old Nikes, once proud and colorful kicks now stained with the grizzle that dripped from the grill’s grease trap.
The first thing I noticed was her language; it was unfitting of a teenager from the privileged Massachusetts suburb of Duxbury. She sarcastically referred to her job at Hannaford as “epic”, pointed out the fitteds of store-goers and declared them “baller” and emphasized unfavorable situations by calling them “weak”. It was this quirky gift for language coupled with her vagrant charm which attracted me. I asked her what she liked to do for fun and she replied, “I like to ski.”
So I guess that’s why I’m writing this – the underlying, hidden point to all this bullshit about my relationship (which you probably aren’t surfing newschoolers.com to find out about) is to offer you an outsider’s view. I have never gone skiing. Ever. My philosophy on skiing is similar to Woody’s philosophy on Buzz’s flying: skiing is pretty much just falling down a mountain with style. I have always designated it as something that “white people” do. Don't get me wrong. When it comes to skin color I'm straight Caucasian, brotha. But I filled the "other" bubble on my SATs, if you catch my drift.
Allow me to clarify my use of the phrase “white people” (note the quotation marks, I’ll be making an important distinction). It’s similar to that “Black People vs. Ni99ers” (I had to censor myself) skit that Chris Rock famously does. White people, no quotations, is a phrase I use to refer to the race in general – people who are especially lacking in natural skin pigments. “White people”, on the other hand, is the phrase I use to refer to snooty, richer-than-God, upper crust types. In order to better illustrate my point, I offer this list of things “white people” (stereo)typically enjoy:
2. Golfing with clients
3. Proper syntax
4. Popped collars (for those casual occasions)
5. Yanni (but who doesn’t like Yanni?)
6. Yachting and/or sailing
7. Scoffing at the homeless
8. Penny loafers
And, drum roll please… the final item on the list of what “white people” commonly enjoy…
No surprises here folks:
Forgive me if I’ve offended anyone, but I’m talking out of admitted ignorance here.
And I’m not done yet.
When we drove together, we listened to Atmosphere (which was found on almost every playlist she used to soundtrack her ski excursions) and talked about the ridiculous antics of people at work. Work was what we had in common, so it stayed in the forefront. Skiing was kept on the back burner for now; it just didn’t translate yet. Even so, the early stages of our relationship included not only routine makeout sessions in movie theater parking lots and dinner dates at reasonably priced chain restaurants; but brief, candid glimpses into the life of a ski fanatic and full-blown NSer. It was a life I phooeyed as inflated and contrived. It was a group of people trying to translate a pastime into a lifestyle, a more urban language. A language which the tongues of skateboarders had already mastered with their colloquial delinquency. Skiers, to me, were trying to adapt this already-adapted culture and transform concrete into powder. Mountains were reserved for the high-brow romping of the wealthy, not for “gnar shredding”. Urchins. You all looked like urchins to me.
In the beginning I resented freeskiing culture more than anything. This was not an arbitrary decision – I wasn’t trying to salt your game, homey. It just seemed like I was always vying for her attention in a world where car windows offered passing views of infinitely skiable rails and killer faraway slopes. The sensation of my hand in hers gave way to the enthralling sight of a tasty seven stair set as we passed the elementary school. In one particular episode, the ski movie playing on my bedroom television proved to be a skilled contender to our carnal preoccupations (sorry for the confusing word choice, I was trying to figure out a way to sophisticatedly say “sexy time”).
Then we went to college. I guess we broke up, for the lack of a better term. We went our separate ways. Hers was the way of a skier, she went to St. Michaels (which is way-the-fuck up there) and I attended Loyola College (which is way-the-fuck down there, see the conflict?). Our Fridays were pretty comparable – they consisted of classes closely followed by routine drinking and Saturday mornings welcomed us with less-than-friendly hangovers and trashed dorms. But where I laid in bed and cursed whiskey sours, she saddled up with her “no homo” girlfriend Jen and cured her headaches with Pop-Tarts and Red Bull on the way to the mountain. When I finally rolled out of bed around three PM she was on the way home, exhausted from a long day of carving mountain sides with twin blades.
I spent weekdays buried in books, questing for an elusive 4.0 GPA. Her Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were overloaded with obtrusive classes; leaving her Tuesdays and Thursdays wide open for skiing and fraternizing with the Vermont winter. She spent time in class fantasizing about perfecting new tricks instead of discussing Hamlet. She found new boys. Boys who ski. Boys who challenged the oppressive limits of gravity and hit blunts on the lift afterwards to celebrate their victory. But, in the end, we somehow came back together. Like the habitual meeting of her bindings and boots, we found ourselves linked together again in a perfect fit.
And the summer was snow-free as always. This year, however, has been filled with stories of gut-wrenching falls on Valentine’s Day, chill sessions at Stowe, and a library which really wasn’t really a library – at all. Then Jen came to visit.
When we went to go pick up Jen in the fucking Boondocks, MA, Babygurl reamed with excitement. Jen showered Babygurl with gifts: a scarf from some indie ski brand and other assorted favors I have no familiarity with. They climbed in the car and we made our way back to Duxbury. Insane things leaked from their heads. Words I had never heard before. I just turned up the radio; we were listening to Tyga and I fuckin love Tyga. Meanwhile, their lips unleashed combinations of words I cannot successfully recreate without making an ass of myself. Allow me to attempt anyway:
Babygurl: “OMG Jen did you see the previews for Super Dope Ski Company’s new video? Dagnasty McSkierdude looks like he has a sick part, I can’t believe he 540 misty flipped over that stack of midgets!”
Jen: “Yeah I scoped that earlier today. I was shredding Stubbs with Nopoles Goofyfoot when he told me about it. Im stoked!”
Now, that wasn’t exactly what they said, but I think its pretty close. I was actually just trying to impress you all with my acquired ski lingo (did it work?). If that half-ass attempt is evidence of anything, its evolution. Personal evolution, not that heavy Darwin shit. It doesn’t mean that fish are turning into people (because the Earth is only like 200 years old, according to the Bible), what it means is that I was (and am) beginning to understand.
Newschoolers.com is no longer just Babygurl’s homepage, the page that I immediately click off of when I use her laptop. I see it as her gateway. Her escape. The same escape she sought when the pressures of education forced her into a stress-filled stupor. The same escape that came when her skis cut fresh powder on her off days. The stark clarity of the life unoccupied. Skiing is what holds her together. When people go to college (especially “white people”) they get sized and fitted for careers. Fitted for careers like boxes. Boxes in which they’ll be placed for the rest of their lives. Babygurl showed me that not everyone fits in a box.
Instead she is home on a lift. She is a part of a culture (NSers, perhaps) where the future is less important than hitting the rail right and sticking the landing. A place where responsibility is just a little more fleeting and youth is found again when the snowflakes gather. It’s not about image or rebellion. I still don’t know exactly what an NSer is, and I use the term pretty ignorantly. But if there’s one thing I know about NSers it’s this: I have fallen in love with one – in style.