Diane Court: I have this theory of convergence, that good things always happen with bad things. I know you have to deal with them at the same time, but I just don't know why they have to happen at the same time. I just wish I could work out some schedule. Am I just babbling? Do you know what I mean?
Lloyd Dobler: No.
For those of you who were born in the 90s, of which I’m guessing might make up the majority, this is a quote from an 80s movie. (Say it with me, Eighties. “AAYYEE-TEES”. Good. A+) Say Anything is your classic cult movie, one in which I will count myself as a fan of without shame. While this is the first time I’ve quoted a chick-flick in my writings, I can’t promise it will be the last.
If you’ve read anything I’ve posted before, then you know that this isn’t like me. I haven’t been using the last 5 minutes to redefine my love affair with winter, yet have been posting quotes that I am sure you’ve never heard. But please, bear with me. Otherwise, use your time to battle the Pokewar that’s been going on in NSG for a day or two. God knows that Pikachu’s pride is on the top of my concerns for the coming year.
I pulled this quote out because today marks the 3rd anniversary of my friend, Mike Neugebauer, and his untimely death. With meeting Mike, I met a new me, and with his loss, part of it was gone. Much like Diane, I don’t get why such a good thing, had to be quickly followed by something so tragic, but I bet most of you are like Lloyd, and unable to answer it.
Meeting Mike was an odd coincidence. He had attended the same summer camp as my best friends, beginning friendships that still straddle town lines to this day. With the end of summer, I found myself just as eager to spend time with my new friends. Leaves began changing and the conversations with Mike began to revolve around skiing and Toggenburg (our local mountain). The more I talked to him, the more fascinated I became with the place that he called home every day after school, and on every weekend.
As the flurries began to fall, so did the walls we each had. I talked to Mike everyday at 3 o’clock. I would just be settling down after school, and he’d be bundled up in the hut at the bunny slope, putting down the phone every so often to save a dragging six year old. When it was the weekend, I could never get a hold of him, because he was always too busy riding around the hill with his boys. Jealous of all the fun I was missing out on, it was no surprise that Christmas centralized around one word: skis.
At this point, you’re all probably doing the math, realizing that maybe I haven’t been riding as long as the rest of you. While this is true, I’m not ashamed. Even though I didn’t become a junkie after my ski lessons in kindergarten, my years without planks on my feet make me appreciate them even more. I’ve soaked up so much love, respect, and passion for this sport in hopes of making up for lost time, though I can’t ever beat those who have been teetering downhill since they could walk.
No matter how many years I’ve had behind me, I still look back on them positively. A highlight of course, is still Mike. It is hard to look back on losing a friend, especially two weeks before my sweet sixteen, but every wince of pain has a smirk of a smile. Like Diane was saying, the good comes with the bad, for whatever reason.
While I may never understand the reasons behind losing a close friend, I can’t say enough about all the things I learned from him. Of course there were many great times had between us, but I know NS can more easily understand the moments filled with skiing.
Many of us will lose people as we age, it’s a part of life, and if you didn’t learn that via The Lion King, then pm me and we’ll talk. I can’t say I understand it, but I almost don’t want to. My heart goes out to all of you who have lost someone, whether it was years ago or today. Each thread beginning with R.I.P. makes me sympathetic, no matter how popular the rider or person was. But with each change in our lives, comes a learning experience, and for me, it has completely altered who I am today, in what I can only hope is for the better.
Although Mike’s body is no longer with me, his spirit and soul still live on through me, and his many friends, who continue to overtake Toggenburg every weekend. We still pull trains through the park like the boys used to do, and I still laugh as I glimpse the bunny hill, watching the teenage attendant struggle with a child in him arms. Even though I am only at Togg on my winter breaks, I still value my time there, and the feeling you get when riding care-free with your best friends.
Leading a lifestyle that revolves around skiing, I can only assume Mike would be doing the same. While I can’t change the events of June 3, 2005, I can decide what I do on June 3, 2008, which is why I’m writing to you, Newschoolers.
Don’t ride with your feet, ride with your heart. Like friends, never take the snow for granted, because you never know what the next season, or the next day will bring. Forget the haters, because your real friends will ride with you no matter what, even if you haven’t washed your one-piece all season. Life isn’t a downhill race, enjoy the curves. If you fall down, pick yourself back up, and if you do fall, it’s no one’s fault but yours. Live every day like it’s last chair, because once it’s over, it’s over, there’s no lift at the end of life so you can do it again. Cherish your mountain, because it’s the best ski buddy you’ll ever find. Don’t hate on the others at the hill, because when it comes down to it, we’re all just a bunch of flakes.
I know this isn’t the blog you were expecting. No inappropriate jokes, no stellar photos, just me reminiscing and thinking of times past. I appreciate those of you who tuned in this week, and I promise to have another piece soon. Whether you’re combating beating rays and sticky humidity, or sessioning a lane in a place privileged enough to have snow, take a moment out of your day and think about your crew, think about what’s on your feet (or anxiously waiting to be on your feet) and think about the snow. I hope the summer finds you well, and wish you nothing but health and happiness as you begin to think about you 08/09 seasons.
Here’s to you, Mike. For keeping me strong these last 3 years, for showing me love can be found in a pair of twin tips, and for always being, in my eyes, the master of the iron-cross. Cheers to the snow finding us, no matter how far apart we are, and until we meet again.
-Just gotta do one shout out mad fast. Happy 21st Birthday to a true friend and fellow NSer, Nick (Freeskier5X)